Sunday, April 18, 2010

"It Is the (Risen) Lord", John 21:7 - Olive Press CNEWA Project - A New Blessed in Spain

The Third Sunday of Easter (Year "C") - April 18, 2010 "JOY COMES WITH THE MORNING" [Texts: Acts 5:27b-32,40b-41 [Psalm 30]; Revelation 5:11-14; John 21:1-19]

Today's responsory is taken from Psalm 30, an individual's thanksgiving to God for rescue from some life-threatening experience, possibly a major illness. But the superscription, probably attached much later, attributes it to David and describes it as 'a song at the dedication of the temple'.

We see here how an individual's prayer--predominantly praise for personal deliverance--is applied to a communal situation. This helps one see how scripture composed in another context can fittingly be applied to new circumstances. Reference in the psalm to the person having come very close to death then recovering ('O Lord, you brought up my soul from Sheol, restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit') gets applied, by the Church's use in the Easter season, to Christ's resurrection.

The dynamic movement of the poem, as in many other psalms, is from the individual's experience to the community's. The psalmist invites others to share his prayer of gratitude, 'sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones, and give thanks to his holy name'. The affliction is seen to have been a temporary one, just as Christ's death was immediately followed by His resurrection ('weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning').

The transition from mourning to rejoicing is a sub-theme of the story of Jesus' encounter with seven disciples on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, also known as the Sea of Tiberias after the major city on the lake. It is found in the dialogue between Jesus and Peter over the latter's love for his Lord. Readers have found Jesus' three questions, 'Do you love me (more than these)?' as an opportunity for Peter to undo his three denials.

Earlier, at the Last Supper, Peter had boasted to Jesus that he was ready 'more than these' to lay down his life for Jesus (John 13:37). On the night when Jesus was handed over, Peter denied Jesus three times near a charcoal fire (18:18). Now, near another charcoal fire (21:8), Peter affirms his love for Jesus without comparing himself to the others ('Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you').

The rehabilitation of Peter touches on his personal relationship with Jesus, but Christ decides that their relationship will touch many others, 'Feed my lambs..., tend my sheep..., feed my sheep'. There is a sense that the abundant love of Jesus and Peter for each other overflows to embrace many others.

This theme of superabundance typifies the miracles Jesus worked in Galilee and, in the case of the great catch of fish, became the catalyst for the beloved disciple's recognition of Jesus ('It is the Lord!')

At the beginning of Jesus' ministry, the miracle at Cana--of water transformed into wine--caused the disciples to see Jesus' glory (2:1-11). As well, the miracle of the multiplication of five barley loaves and two fish (6:1-14) to feed a crowd of 5,000 evokes the declaration by the evangelist that 'from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace' (1:16).

To a Lord who is so lavish, Peter responds with willing acceptance of the call to pasture Christ's flock. He even willingly receives Jesus' prediction that he will glorify God by his coming death.

Commentators have puzzled over the number of fish caught, 153. While some say it is a recollection of an eye-witness who counted them, Augustine is one of many interpreters who read the number symbolically. He noted that 153 is the sum of all the integers between 1 and 17 and so suggests completeness, the totality of the church.

The symbolic tie between the miraculous catch of fish and the mission of the disciples is underlined by the words used to describe Peter's hauling in the net. The verb "to haul" is the same one used in 6:44 to describe those God brings to Jesus ('No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me') and in 12:32 to speak of the saving effects of Jesus' death ('And I, when I am lifted from the earth, will draw all people to Myself').

The verb hints that the disciples join God and Jesus Himself in drawing people to Jesus. The catch of fish extends God's and Jesus' work into the disciples' or church's mission.

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CNEWA Olive Press Factory (Kobayat)

On April 9, between our visit to Byblos and crossing over into Syria, the CNEWA delegation visited an olive press project, then joined the cooperative members for a luncheon in a nearby restaurant.

Located in the northern part of Lebanon, at 700 meters above sea level, and about 140km from Beirut, the village of Kobayat is considered the main hub for agricultural activities in the upper Akkar area. The agricultural lands of Kobayat are located in two areas; a mountainous area cultivated with apples and fruit trees and a valley cultivated with olive trees.

CNEWA – Pontifical Mission has been working in Kobayat for more than eleven years in upgrading and developing the community infrastructure that affects the agricultural productivity and the local environment. Plenty of effort was placed in supporting sustainable economic opportunities and enhancing agricultural productivity of farmers through the construction of agricultural roads, a vegetable market and a cold storage room, a cattle farm etc. as well as an olive press factory.

As part of its policy to create income generating projects, and upon a request received from the agricultural cooperative of Kobayat, CNEWA - Pontifical Mission decided to construct and equip an olive press facility. The system recommended by the cooperative was the semi-automatic press that extracts oil using hydraulic presses and separate oil from water without heating. The capacity of the press installed is 1000 kg of olives per hour and can be easily increased in the future.

The total cost of the project was $139,000 of which CNEWA’s share was $113,000 and the remaining $26,000 $ was contributed by the cooperative. This project produces a constant yearly income (estimated to be around $20,000) for the agricultural cooperative (164 members) that will help improve the agricultural status of the farmers and creates7 job opportunities for the villagers.

The cooperative charges the farmers lower pressing fees than other private facilities. It also provides free transportation of olives to the facility through the cooperative tractors. An estimated $7 reduction in the pressing cost of every 20 liters of olive oil is achieved thus increasing the profit of the farmers.

Moreover, constructing an olive press in the upper villages of Akkar eliminates the need to pack the olives in bags two or three days before pressing, transporting them long distances under the bad effects of weather, and waiting in turn to press them. All these factors increase the acidity of oil and affect its quality.

Now that the olive press is operating in Kobayat, farmers are producing high quality of olive oil at a lower production cost and a higher margins of profit.

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BLESSED Bernardo de HOYOS, S.J.

Today in Valladolid, a young Spanish Jesuit will be beatified. It seems that the Society of Jesus is on its way toward a fourth “boy saint.” Fr. Bernardo de Hoyos, SJ (1711-1735), considered the first apostle of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Spain, will join the ranks of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, St. Stanislaus Kostka, and St. John Berchmanns, all of whom achieved notable holiness while still in Jesuit formation (unlike the others who were unordained scholastics when they died, Bernardo was ordained a priest and was completing his tertianship, the final stage of Jesuit formation, when he died at the age of 24).

Why is he important? Well, he'll be counted among the saints and blesseds who spread the devotion to the Sacred of Heart of Jesus and the Lord's desire to give bountiful graces. De Hoyos' heavenly companionship will be with the likes of Saints Gertrude and Mechtild, Saints Theresa of Jesus (Avila) and John Eudes, Saints Margaret Mary Alacoque and Claude La Colombiere, and Saint Faustina.

Father de Hoyos was commissioned by the Lord Himself to spread devotion to His Sacred Heart in Spain on May 4, 1733. We can infer that the Lord wants the devotion to His Sacred Heart spread throughout the world.


  1. It indeed is notable that they could become saints while Jesuits!

  2. astonishing specific post themes