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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Pentecost

"Suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them."

The winds of Pentecost are cleansing, empowering and renewing. Freed of the limitations of the Old Law, the Gospel assures believers that the Spirit of God will be their guide and strength. What might have made the first disciples anxious before the Spirit's coming upon them, now is a tool of rebirth, something that becomes their strength. Remembering that Jesus told them many times not to be afraid, the Apostles and disciples trusted the fire of the Spirit's power to be their gateway to a rekindled faith life.

Pentecost is both a consolation and challenge to believers. When we accept the promise of Jesus to be with us always through his Spirit, and allow ourselves to be bathed in this assurance, our lives change. We discover a strength, even in difficult times, that is more than we could have imagined, and we know with a new certainty that we are not alone. Lifted up by the fire of God's love, we are sent into the world as a challenge to others to let go of the empty values of wealth and power over others for our own satisfaction, and led into and by the light of faith into a lifestyle that finally hears and responds to Jesus' command that we take nothing for the journey.

Today, let the fire of the Spirit tell you how to live in Christ.

Have you ever been "blown away" by faith and its promises?

Friday, May 13, 2016

St Matthias

"And the lot fell upon Matthias." Acts 1:26

St Matthias seems a good choice as patron saint for all of us. Chosen by lot to be an apostle, he disappears. We hear almost nothing more of him except that he was martyred around the year 63 CE. Most of us have similar lives in faith. Chosen and called by name to follow the Lord, our lives, though largely unremarkable, are important, not because we have become famous or well known, but because we have remained faithful.

Upon reflection, most of us would admit that the people whose example we follow and remain as pillars of faith for us are not the great saints about whom everyone knows. They are the husbands and wives, the mothers and fathers, the grandparents, mentors and soul friends who are the "underground cellars" of our lives. Though few will remember their names or deeds, they form the foundation of the church that, despite power struggles and doctrinal battles among the elite, remain our hope for the future.

Today, ask St Matthias to help you be quietly faithful to the gospel.

Who are the people that continue to shape your faith life?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Following the Lord

"Follow me." Jn 21:19

Jesus is our model for everything in life, but never more so than when he reminds us that he is never alone, that his father is with him always. That is why he commands his disciples and us to follow him. We may not always feel the presence of God, especially when we are worried or fretting about matters we cannot control, but we must keep acting as if God is with us. We must keep following him.

The great saints in every religious tradition teach this consistently. Ghandi counselled his followers not to think of prayer as the work of the old or the weak, but as an act of submission to God and the food that strengthens us along the way. Prayer is the foundational practice of followers.

Rooted in this conviction, Ghandi writes about the fruit of prayer: "Nothing is so aggravating as calmness." Committed to non violence, Ghandi knew he would be tempted to act aggressively, to abandon calmness, especially in defense of the poor and voiceless, but he reminds us, “I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent."

Today, pray for the faith to follow the Lord even when you are walking in the dark.

How has prayer changed your life?


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Common Sense

"That they may be one, as we are one." Jn 17:22

Especially in the United States, it is important to speak plainly. As a nation, we ask our politicians to work with and for us, to seek simple and honest solutions to common problems and to be straightforward in their approach to difficult choices they may have to make. When our politicians fail in this regard, as they often have in recent years, we wonder about their priorities and whether they are really working for us or are more committed to their party loyalties.

The Jewish community had multiple political divisions at the time of Jesus. The Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes and the Zealots were struggling among themselves for control of the Jewish community, and too often their battles obscured the law and the prophets, making it difficult for everyday believers to know what to think, to believe, and how to worship authentically.

Jesus, on the other hand, spoke plainly and with enormous common sense. He begs his disciples to be one in God's Spirit, to reflect the unity He has with his Father. A life of faith is simple. When we are one with all people across ethnic, religious and cultural lines, we proclaim hope and naturally share our strengths and our resources with those in need.

Today, pray to let go of unnecessary divisions.

What do you need to do to speak plainly like Jesus?






Tuesday, May 10, 2016

God's love is like the Rain

"As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world." Jn 17:18

St Cyril of Jerusalem, using the simplest of metaphors, helps us understand the Christ in a very accessible way:
But why did Christ call the grace of the Spirit water?...Water comes down from heaven as rain, and although it is always the same in itself, it produces many different effects, one in the palm tree, another in the vine, and so on throughout the whole of creation. It does not come down, now as one thing, now as another, but while remaining essentially the same, it adapts itself to the needs of every creature that receives it.
Jesus' Spirit is like rain inviting us to sit by a window, watch the rain come down and imagine it nurturing and nourishing every plant and tree we can see. When it penetrates the roots of an oak tree, it allows the oak to be itself, strong and majestic, but when it drenches the roots of a tomato plant, it makes it possible for the plant to produce tomatoes. The miracle of grace and growth is obvious and important.

Our lives, lived in faith, should be like rain in others' lives. It is not our task to change those around us, but to help them become themselves in faith. When we give of ourselves freely to those in need, they can become the person God intends and needs them to become for the sake of God's reign. As God sends Jesus, and Jesus send us, so must we send others in Jesus' name to be signs of God's love.

Today, pray that those closest to you will become God's face in the world.

Who has been like rain in your faith life?

Monday, May 9, 2016

Advocacy

"But now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem. What will happen to me there I do not know, except that in one city after another the Holy Spirit has been warning me that imprisonment and hardships await me." Acts 20: 21-22

If you have ever been to a courthouse for a trial then you know the setting for St. John’s gospel. John suggests that not only Jesus, but the entire church is on trial, and that both Jesus and the church have an Advocate, a spokesperson who will testify on their behalf. This Advocate is the Holy Spirit. In the ancient world, if you were accused of a crime, it was important to haven an important figure in town speak on your behalf, someone to insist that you were more than your faults. The Holy Spirit is the one John designates as our spokesperson.

Not infrequently, when our spirits are low, we forget all those who care about and love us. Overwhelmed by our own guilt or weakness, we slip into a kind of darkness that blankets every thing we do and are. Though we know that life is not all darkness, we have periods of time when it seems that way, usually because of the accumulation of burdens. It is at times like this that we have to remember that we are not alone, the Spirit of God is with us, will guide us and support us.

Today, ask the Advocate to intercede for someone you know who cannot pray for themselves.

Has your faith called you to be an Advocate for others?

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Take Courage

"In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” Jn 16:33

One of the dangers in being called to ministry is that we very often encounter people when they are in acute distress. Their children are addicted and acting out, their parents are in jail, a sister is seriously mentally ill or a brother is unable to tell the truth, and they look to us for insight and wisdom. The list of woes goes on and on, and often skews our worldview. Life feels like a very dark place and unless we are careful we begin to believe that the entire world is a mess.

Because Jesus understood that life would be difficult for his disciples, especially if they continued to proclaim the Good News, he offered them a way to understand and interpret their ministerial efforts through the experience of a woman giving birth. While the pain of child birth is intense, the result is pure joy. A child is born, a new life begins and hope replaces despair. Such would be the life of those who remained faithful to the gospel. Darkness can become light, and sadness can be transformed into hope, but we must pause each day to remember that we are not alone, that we are accompanied by a body of believers who, while they suffer, also know great joy.

Today, remember that your life has already produced great gifts for God.

How do you manage to remain centered in God in a world full of heartache?