St. Stanislaus


Transformative Faith Transforming Life:

Optional Memorial of St. Stanislaus

(Acts 5:27-33; Ps 34; Jn 3:31-36)


We are invited by today’s readings for Thursday of the second week of Easter to allow our faith in the Risen Lord, fill us with love and transform us into witnesses to the resurrection.

One consistent theme running through all the liturgies since Easter is transformation. The disciples were transformed by the resurrection of Jesus and the reception of the Spirit from a fearful, timid band into bold, courageous followers of Jesus ready to take on the whole world and speak truth to power. Our Eastern cousins call this theosis, divinization, becoming more God-like, and it is the core of our Easter faith.

Yesterday’s reading informed us the high priest, the council and the whole body of the elders of Israel had assembled to deal with the upstart apostles. Today, the temple police bring the miraculously released prisoners, Peter and the apostles, into their presence.

Were they intimidated by this show of institutional religious force? Not at all – they actually used that return to the scene of their crime to proclaim fearlessly the Jesus whom the religious leaders had crucified was Risen Lord and Savior, and was now offering new life to all, even them, through repentance, forgiveness of their sins, and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

There is divine irony here – the very people who crucified Jesus, whom God raised from the dead, now in their darkness, unbelief and stubborn self-will, become enraged when they hear the true outcome of their evil deeds, and want to kill the apostles! Truly obstinate, they are the ones’ “disobeying the Son who will never see eternal life.” What a tragedy!

In the gospel we see, even before the ministry of Jesus begins, either St. John (or John the Baptist, as it is not clear in this passage who exactly is speaking) is able to peer into the mystery that was to unfold through the ministry, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. This is rather amazing. It is like that one is conducting a course on the Theology of God, and here teaching his disciples a class on the Holy Trinity.

The Father loves the Son and has given everything to the Son, who in turn speaks the truth about God and sends the Holy Spirit without measure to those who believe in the Son. And the Holy Spirit, we know, is the bond of love between the Father and the Son. Our God is all about relationship, about love given and received.

Someone who was able to creatively express some of this mystery is André Rublev, with his painting of the hospitality of Abraham and Sarah to three angelic strangers, who majestically and exquisitely manifest that eternal exchange of love, a divine dance, in that painting.

The writer continues to proclaim Jesus had been sent by God, was the Word of God made flesh, would rule over all creation, and pour out the Spirit on those who believe without measure, filling them with eternal life, the very life of the Triune God-head itself.

There is a critical pattern here.  Faith in Jesus risen from the dead opens us up to receive the Spirit of Jesus generously poured into our hearts, stirring up within us the priceless gift of repentance that opens us up to receive the unconditional love of God as pure, undeserved forgiveness. That forgiveness and healing constitutes a new reality, a new way of being, a new way of living, of peace, wellness, justice and freedom from sin and sinfulness that is eternal life, the very life of God.

According to Bishop Robert Barron, the purpose of the sending of the Son was to gather the human race into the divine life—the rhythm of the Trinitarian love—so that we might relate to God not merely as creatures but as friends. You see, love becomes complete only when there is another who can receive fully what the lover wants to give.

The pattern concludes with the reality that we are not to sit on this gift but like the apostles, fearlessly proclaim it, witness to it, to the whole world. The catch is that witnessing means more than simply announcing – it means manifesting this new reality by our lives. As one person put it, if Christians want others to believe in their redeemer, they better start acting more redeemed!

John Allen Jr., Vatican correspondent and regular speaker at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, shared his experience of interviewing Christians around the world who are being persecuted for their faith. He asked one woman in Africa who witnessed most of her family being massacred by Boka Haram, how she could be so buoyant and full of life. She replied, “The most precious gift God has given me is my faith. They took away most of my family; I will not let them take away my faith, and my faith asks me to be like Jesus, to love my enemies by forgiving them.”  Hers is truly a transformative faith, witnessing to the resurrection.

Today we celebrate St. Stanislaus. he was one of the earliest native Polish bishops. His major accomplishments included bringing papal legates to Poland, and reestablishment of a metropolitan see in Gniezno. Stanisław then encouraged King Bolesław to establish Benedictine monasteries to aid in the Christianization of Poland. The cult of Saint Stanisław the martyr began immediately upon his death. In 1245 his relics were moved to Kraków’s Wawel Cathedral. On September 17, 1253, at Assisi, Stanisław was canonized by Pope Innocent IV.

The Eucharist itself is an experience of transformative faith. Humble gifts of bread and wine are transformed by the prayer of faith and the power of the Holy Spirit into the very body and blood of Jesus Christ. We who receive are in turn transformed into the body of the Risen Christ, empowered to go out and be leaven for the world, proclaiming the unconditional love of God in Christ and the Holy Spirit.


Updated: April 11, 2024 — 3:20 am

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