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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Pentecost

"Each one heard them speaking in his own language." Acts 2:5

Calling Pentecost  the birthday of the church can be a distraction. Pentecost is not only the beginning of the church, it is an event that changes everything in the disciples' lives. It transforms them in ways they could never have anticipated. Not only do the disciples discover the courage to speak and live the Gospel despite the cost, people hear them without benefit of knowing Hebrew, Greek or whatever language the disciples were speaking. The transformation that takes place in the disciples' lives is so palpable that others "hear" their message not only with words but because of the disciples' witness. 

Pentecost belongs to all of us. It promises us knowledge strength, wisdom, insight, understanding and so much more. Pentecost empowers us to trust God to lead us beyond our fears and into the fullness of faith. It assures us that God is always close, and ready to lead us along the path of light. Though darkness will come to all, the light of Christ will never fail and the Spirit of God will be our guide.

As we enter more deeply into the 21st century we need to ask God to draw us into a new Pentecost, a time of reform, renewal and hope. The gospel does not lack any power, but our lives do not always "speak" the the transformation the Spirit promises. Pentecost is a time to begin again to live the Gospel without limits.

Today, speak and live the Gospel simply and let the Lord work through you.

Have you ever experienced a personal Pentecost? How has it changed your life?










Friday, May 17, 2013

Minding our own Business

"Peter turned and saw the disciple following whom Jesus loved, the one who had also reclined upon his chest during the supper and had said, “Master, who is the one who will betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus said to him, “What if I want him to remain until I come? What concern is it of yours? You follow me.”

Jesus is direct and sharp with Peter when the apostle asks Jesus about John's fate. Simply put, Jesus tells Peter to mind his own business and it shocks us. Too often we want to know details about other's lives not because we are concerned for them, but because we are nosy. Jesus will have none of it and his reminder to Peter continues to ring true today.

The Lord tells Peter not to worry about John's fate, but to follow him. That is all that is important and all that matters. Our task is to follow Jesus without being concerned about the behavior of others. This is not to say we will never wonder about the integrity of others lives, but Jesus is clear when he tells Peter to pay attention to his own life and to care for others as God cares for them. To do otherwise distracts us from our primary work. We must proclaim the Good News in season and out despite the failure of others to respond.

Today, mind your own business and be grateful for your faith.

Which of your faults most distract you from living the Gospel?




Thursday, May 16, 2013

Loving God Totally

"Simon Peter, do you love me more than these?"

Jesus' question to Peter makes us squirm. How can Peter answer? Did he wonder whether Jesus was upset with him for his faults and failures as the one to whom he gave the keys of the kingdom? Jesus' question is direct and demanding. Do you love me? More than these? All of us hear the same question directed to us.

Loving God totally and completely, as Jesus asks Peter to do, makes believers incredibly vulnerable. Love implies that we are focused, unafraid, and committed to God and God's desire for the world without concern for our own welfare. Love like this hurts and Peter hesitates, equivocates and answers meekly. In Greek, when Jesus asks Peter if he loves him, Peter says that the Lord knows he is his friend, and while friends love one another, the totality that Jesus seeks from Peter is lacking.

It would have been better for Peter to tell Jesus he would try to love him totally. Rather than hesitate and look for a way not to answer Jesus' question, he could have assured the Lord he was doing his best and would keep trying. Jesus accepts apologies, but challenges arrogance. It is important for all of us to remember this.

Today, love as much as you can and let go.

Who do you find most difficult to love?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Letting go of Friends

"They were deeply distressed that Paul had said that they would never see his face again."

Letting go of a friend and a mentor is always difficult, made even more so if the teacher, like St Paul, is able to articulate the mystery of faith in such a dynamic and compelling manner. When Paul told the people of Miletus that he was leaving and probably would nor see them again, they were upset and worried. A new church, they were still finding their way and were not sure they knew how to grow in Christ without someone like Paul to guide them.

Growing in faith and becoming an adult is hard work. While always respectful of those called to lead, we must also be prepared to make difficult decisions rooted in study and prayer. We cannot simply ask what the church teaches without taking responsibility for interpreting church teaching in our own lives, families and communities.

This is especially true when we cross cultures. Not only must we be attentive to the differences we encounter in customs, food and music, we need to probe and value the deeper values a culture values and celebrates. The role of children and the elderly, for instance, will be different in Kenya than the United States, and only the person willing to find common ground between and among cultures will be able to proclaim the Gospel with the power it deserves. In other words, the people of Miletus and we must let go of the security of always having our mentors close in order to become mentors to the next generation.

Today, listen twice as much as you speak.

How do you manage loss in your life?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

St Matthias

"Then they prayed, 'You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this apostolic ministry from which Judas turned away to go to his own place.' Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was counted with the Eleven Apostles." Acts 1:25-26

In almost every chapter of the Book of Acts there is a reference to prayer, a remarkable but unsurprising fact. The apostles and disciples knew how dependent they were on God for life, faith and direction. Prayer both reminded them of this, and deepened their commitment to rely on the Lord for everything.

Unlettered women and men for the most part, the disciples slowly came to believe that God had chosen them to live and do the Gospel not simply for their own salvation but that the world might know the name and ministry of Jesus the Christ. Praying helped them remember their call and grow in it. Prayer can do the same for us.

Although not all of us are apostles or even, like our bishops, successors to the Apostles, we each have a vocation and a ministry rooted in Baptism. All of us have been called to announce the Good News with our lives and service, especially of those who have never heard the Gospel of Jesus. Daily prayer not only reminds of our vocation, it deepens us in the realization that by ourselves we can do little, but with God all things are possible.

Today take one minute of silence and offer it to God for whatever God wants to do in and through us.

What does prayer or praying mean for you?


Monday, May 13, 2013

The Free Gift of Faith

"The hour is coming and has arrived when each of you will be scattered to his own home and you will leave me alone." Jn 16:32

Most of us appreciate explanations of complex matters that we can understand. I am especially grateful to a few friends who are scientists but have the ability to speak about science in a way that non scientists like me can understand. They open up the world of nature and allow us to enter it with even more awe about "what God has done."

Nevertheless, Jesus knows that his disciples, who are seeking deeper insight about who he is and what he is doing, actually don't understand his message even though he speaks to them in story and image about the glory of God. Perhaps, like most of us, the disciples don't really want to understand for fear they will have to change. When Jesus tells them they will have to carry their cross and suffer for the sake of God's reign, they usually interpret his message in military and political terms, and are more than willing to do their part to vanquish the Romans and reclaim all of Palestine for God. That this is not Jesus' message is something they either resist or deny. So do we.

We can win physical battles for a good cause. We admire soldiers who enter the military to defend our country and its values, but when Jesus tells us that our suffering will come not because we are winning or losing military battles but because we must tell the world that a life dedicated to worldly success, the acquisition of the property and wealth is temporary and ultimately empty. Who wants to suffer to preserve the dignity of all people, to work for justice and to give voice to the voiceless unless their is a physical reward?  We want to earn our salvation and thus take credit for all our good and hard work.

The Good News, however, assures us that we cannot win salvation. Rather, we must learn that God wants to be with us, to accompany us and to live with us forever. More important, salvation is a free gift which we must announce. We don't earn it, but glory in wonder  that God can love us so much.

Today, listen for God's word and embrace it.

What dimension of the Gospel is most difficult for you to understand and accept?