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When Peter and other disciples were brought before the council because they had broken orders not to speak about Jesus, it was the Pharisee Gamaliel who saved their hides. "I tell you," Gamaliel said, "keep away from these men and let them alone; because if this plan or this understanding is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them – in that case you may even be found fighting against God" (Acts 5.38-39).
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The May 5 Alberta election is one significant opportunity for the baptized to assume their role as prophets and bring Catholic ideals to play in the public realm. A Catholic vote and other participation in the electoral process should express, not one's self-interest or personal tastes, but the values by which we are called to live our faith. Our actions should flow out of the great commandment – to love God and love our neighbour. Like God who is partial to the poor and marginalized, our first thought should be for those excluded from the vast benefits of living in our blessed society.
Always outspoken, a man who stayed close to home, Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte was never seen as a likely candidate for pope. It must then have brought him a quiet chuckle when one of his closest friends among the cardinals – Jorge Mario Bergoglio – was elected to the papacy. The style of the two was similar – close to the people, especially the poor, willing to shoot from the hip, advocates of Church social teaching and no interest in playing Church politics.
Everything that's good eventually gets scapegoated and crucified. How? By that curious, perverse dictate somehow innate within human life that assures that there's always someone or something that cannot leave well enough alone, but, for reasons of its own, must hunt down and lash out at what's good. What's good, what's of God, will always, at some point, be misunderstood, envied, hated, pursued, falsely accused and eventually nailed to some cross. Every body of Christ inevitably suffers the same fate as Jesus, death through misunderstanding, ignorance and jealousy.
Be aware, dear reader. You might have to come to the defence of your doctor. Take a look at what is happening to Catholic, Christian and other doctors who are pro-life in Ontario. Their governing body, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, told them if a patient asks for a procedure they are unwilling to do because of their personal and/or religious ethics, they must refer the patient to someone they know will do the procedure.
Over the years, participation in Edmonton's Outdoor Way of the Cross on Good Friday morning has very much become part of my life. In the beginning years, the route was downtown, the first year going over the High Level Bridge as far as the University Hospital. More recently, the event has found its home in the inner city, with the procession this year starting and ending at Hope Mission, the largest homeless shelter in the city.
We truly understand Jesus when we see that he has a shepherd's heart. He is, as this week's Gospel tells us, the Good Shepherd. The merciful heart of Jesus is always oriented toward his sheep. His heart is focused on you, me and all his children. I remember watching a flock of sheep in a field shortly after my conversion. I walked up to the fence and observed them with fascination. I knew they had something to teach me about myself.
"Without me you can do nothing." The image of the vine and the branches in this Gospel is a familiar one. In John's usual style, it is both simple and profound. Jesus says we are completely dependent on him, and every good thing we do is because of him. This theme is echoed again and again in our faith; the Mass goes so far as telling us that the "desire to thank you is itself your gift." Even thanking God is a gift from God!
Why are the psalms important for Christians?
I believe the Canadian government's decision to bomb ISIL terrorist targets in Syria is morally wrong, militarily counter-productive and legally dubious. Of course, Canada should "do something," as popular parlance puts it, to counter the appalling and abhorrent crimes perpetrated in Iraq and Syria by ISIS – the mass killings, sexual violence, slavery, forced displacement, and the destruction of holy and historic sites.