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May 13, 1988     The Message
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May 13, 1988

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May 13, 1988 C,)mmentary The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 5 Mass Readings By FATHER DONALD DILGER Consecrate them in the truth: I have sent them into the world Gospel Commentary for Sunday, May 15, 1988 Seventh Sunday of Easter- John 17:11.19 The context of today's gospel reading is the discourse of Jesus at the Last Supper stretching from John 13 through 17. The discourse began after the washing of the disciples' feet by which they were symbolically cleansed at the beginning of the discourse for the consecration which Jesus will ask for at the end of the discourse. In between these two highlights there has been discussion of .he departure of Jesus and the promise of the Holy nirit. The necessity of union with Jesus was em- phasized by the parable of the Vine and the Branches. Persecution was promised but also the strength to withstand persecution. After all this comes the prayer of Jesus for the disciples in chapter seventeen of which today's gospel is a part. The purpose of the prayer is to ask the Father to take over guardianship ot me disciples since Jesus will be leaving them shortly. The whole discourse therefore takes on the aspect of a farewell address. Jesus is the valedictorian. Jesus addresses his Father as "Holy Father," the only time he does so in the gospels. Usually it is a simple "Father." As noted in earlier columns, : John likes to set up opposites in his gospels and so he might be thinking of another father here, the one he calls "the father of lies" in 8:44, who "has nothing to do with the truth because he has no truth in him." The "Holy Father" on the contrary will be asked to consecrate the disciples in the truth, sharing his holiness with them. Jesus asks the Father to keep them "in the NAME which you have given me." They are to be marked with the divine name as a seal or stamp indicating to whom they have been consecrated. In the Old Testament, Aaron the high priest wore a plate of pure gold on his turban above the forehead with the inscription: "Holy to the Lord," Exodus 28:36. Aaron was con- secrated to the Lord as Jesus asks the disciples to be, Leviticus 8:10-12. In our Book of revelation the servants of God are sealed or consecrated with the seal of God on their forehead, Rev. 7:3. The idea of being guarded by the divine name is com- mon in the Old Testament. Psalm 20 opens with the words: "May the name of the God of Jacob pro- tect you." Proverbs 18:10 reads: "The name of the Lord is a strong tower. The just man runs into it and is safe." What is the NAME which the Father has given Jesus? For the author of this gospel it seems to be the divine name revealed to Moses in Exodus 3:14, the name I AM. John has Jesus using this name of himself repeatedly in the gospel. In 8:28: "When you have lifted up the Son of man then you will know that I AM." In 9:58: "Before Abraham came to be I AM." The protective power of this name is shown in John 18:5-8: Jesus asks the soldiers who come to arrest him whom they seek. They answer: Jesus of Nazareth. When Jesus responds: I AM, the soldiers fall to the ground, struck down by the power of the divine name. It is then that Jesus orders the soldiers to leave his disciples alone. In this gospel Jesus is in total charge during the pas- sion. He is the I AM and the disciples are pro- tected by that name. They are so protected that on- ly in this gospel is there a disciple at the foot of the cross. In the other gospels there are none but the women who stand at a distance. The men disappeared in fright. Later they will not flee but will have joy in persecution and even in martyr- dom. This is the hatred of the world toward them which Jesus here predicts. The theme of joy while being hated by the world is stressed in Luke: "Happy are you when they hate you and when they exclude you and insult you and throw out your name as evil .... Rejoice on that day! Leap for joy! Your reward is great in heaven," Luke 6:22-23. Paul writes in I Thess. 1:6: "... you received the word in much affliction, with joy in- spired by the Holy Spirit." Jesus asks that they be consecrated in the TRUTH? What is that truth? There may be dif- ferent interpretations but since today's liturgy is a preparation for the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon the Church next Sunday, i.e. Pentecost, let us interpret it as meaning the Holy Spirit. In 14:26 Jesus says that he will ask the Father, who will give them a Consoler in his own absence, the SPIRIT OF TRUTH, who will be in them. "He will teach you all things and bring to your mind all that I have said to you," 14:26. In 15:26 "the Spirit of Truth will bear witness to me." In 16:13 "the Spirit of Truth will guide you in all the truth." I John 5:7 goes beyond this and says: "The Spirit is the truth." To be consecrated in the truth is for the Christian the receiving of the Holy Spirit. That consecration is never for one self alone. It is a setting apart for some kind of mission. In Acts 13:2: "While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said: 'Set apart for me Bar- nabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them .... ' So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit. . ." The disciples receive their consecration in the Holy Spirit and their mission at the same time in John 20:21-22: "As the Father has sent me so do I send you .... Receive the Holy Spirit." That is why Jesus adds in his prayer for the disciples in this gospel: "As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world." This follows the prayer that the Father consecrate them in the truth, i.e., in the Holy Spirit. Jesus himself was con- secrated by the Holy Spirit for his work. In the synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus is sent into his mission after receiving the Holy Spirit at his baptism. Even in the Gospel of John, where the baptism of Jesus is omitted, John sees the Spirit descending from heaven in the form of a dove and remaining on Jesus before he begins his mission by choosing disciples. In preparation for Pentecost, let us ask that we also may share in the prayer of Jesus to be con- secrated in the truth, the Spirit of Truth, that we, like the disciples, may be sent into the world as Jesus was after his consecration in the Spirit. We have been set apart because, in the words of to- day's second reading, "he has given us of his own Spirit." In today's first reading the assembly sets apart Matthias as an apostle, "one who is sent," to replace Judas. Together with the other disciples he receives consecration by the Spirit of Truth. "Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth." Other readings for May 15: Acts 1:15-26; I John 4:11-16. L "2 Vatican Letter Jesuit helped revolutionize missionary work By AGOSTINO BONe NC News Service VATICAN CITY (NC) -- In 1612 Father Roque Gonzalez walked into an experimental In- dian village in Paraguay to begin a 16-year career that helped revolutionize mis- .... sionary activity in South  America. Trained as a Jesuit, an ar- chitect, a bricklayer and a carpenter, Father Gonzalez designed a central plaza, directed the construction of houses, founded a school and built a church with his own hands. It was a career that would also turn him into an explorer, riding uncharted rivers in search of undiscovered Indian tribes and new locations to build more experimental villages. It was a career that ended in ' martyrdom in 1628 and that will be crowned with sainthood May 16 at a papal Mass in the Paraguayan capital of Asun- cion. The experimental village that started Father Gonzalez on his career was called San Ignacio Guazu, founded in 1609. It was the first of what would grow in- to a controversial network of 54 villages with an Indian popula- tion of 150,000 in what are now parts of Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil. The net- work straddled what was then the dividing line between Spanish and Portuguese col- onial territory. The villages, called "reduc- tions," were a Jesuit effort to evangelize Indians by an in- tegrated missionary approach that combined spiritual training with a farm-oriented economic life that also improved their material well-being. The idea was not just to teach religion, but to develop model communities of Christian liv- ing. The reductions combined private and communal proper. ty. Each Indian family had its own house and a plot of land to grow food for personal use. There was also communal farm land, worked by the men, which provided cash crops. The profits from the communal land went to benefit the entire village. Decision-making was also communal, with an elected village council. The average population of a reduction was 3,000 to 4,000 people. BELONGING TO A reduction had another important advan- tage. It put Indians under Jesuit protection and out of reach of slave traders or European col- onists looking for cheap labor for farms and mines. Part of In- dian education was that they had legal and human rights. "The conquerors had an in- ternal struggle between their Christian culture, which moved them to respect the Indians and their rights, and a greed for possession and power, which pushed them to violent forms of oppression and exploitation," according to a 1985 historical study of the reductions prepared by the Jesuit-run Gregorian University in Rome. The reductions quickly came under attack by many colonists looking for cheap labor and who feared the economic com- petition from the generally well-managed Indian villages. They were looked upon skep- tically by church people favor- ing more traditional missionary methods. The controversy con- tinued for the 160-year lifespan of the reductions. Many Indian leaders also op- posed the reductions, seeing them as corroding their in- fluence and hold over their tribes. Other Indians saw them as efforts to destroy Indian culture and as the velvet glove covering the iron fist of Spanish and Portuguese colonization. The reductions symbolize the bittersweet history of the church's evangelization of Latin American Indians. Part of that history is Father Gonzalez, born in 1576 in Asuncion of Spanish parents. He was one of the first Jesuits to be born in South America, and his identification with his native land drew him toward the Guarani Indians, who populated most of the region. He learned their language even before becoming involved with the reductions. After gaining experience for two years in the San Ignacio Guazu reduction, Father Gon- zalez was sent by his Jesuit superiors on expeditions along the Parana and Uruguay rivers to establish other reductions. He founded nine over a 14-year iJeriod and was in the process of building a 10th when he was killed Nov. 15, 1628, in what is now southern Brazil. The network of reductions had raised the ire of Niezu, a local Indian leader, who saw a growing number of his followers attracted to Catholicism. He decided to destroy them and their Jesuit organizers. A group of Niezu's men at- tacked Father Gonzalez, killing him with club blows to the head, on the site the priest had chosen for a new reduction. The reductions, however, continued to spread until the Jesuits were expelled from Spanish-ruled South America in 1768 by orders of Spain's King Carlos III. They began declining soon after. At the May 16 Mass, Pope John Paul II also plans to canonize two companions of Father Gonzalez: Fathers Alfon- so Rodriguez and Juan del Castillo, both Spanish Jesuits who also were killed by Niezu's men. Vatican officials warn, See VA TIC.AN pe 12