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Saturday, May 19, 2018

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." Acts 2:2-3

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 18, 2018

Minding our own Business

Jesus said to Peter, "What if I want him to remain until I come? What concern is it of yours? You follow me."

How often when we are stressed we forget that Jesus is waiting for us to approach him about our concerns, not look for faults in others in order to deflect our own anxiety. Perhaps that is what was happening to Peter in today's Gospel. Apparently anxious about Jesus' safety, he wonders aloud about whether John might betray Jesus. But Jesus will have none of it, telling Peter not to worry about others but to take care of himself.

Although the Gospel continually assures us that the Lord is always near and anxious to help us, we fall into old patterns of self reliance and howl against the night when all we need to do is stop, rest and let God be God. Peter needed to learn this. So do we.

Today, ask for the grace to walk with God no matter how slowly God seems to be moving.

What does it mean to you to mind your own business?

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Do you love Me?

“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
He then said to Simon Peter a second time,
“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” 
He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”
He said to him the third time,
“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time,
“Do you love me?” and he said to him,
“Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep." Jn 21 15-21

Who wouldn't be distressed if a friend and colleague questioned you over and over again about your loyalty and love? It is unnerving and upsetting, to say the least, when someone you trust seems to doubt your integrity. That Peter is troubled is not the point, however. Jesus is asking Peter not simply to be his friend, but to love him unconditionally just as Jesus loves Peter, which is another matter altogether.

When you read it plainly and openly, the Gospel is very demanding. Jesus challenges us to love one another, even our enemies, in the same way God loves him and us. It is a daunting task, but one we can complete with God's grace. While the Gospel is impossible when we think we must live it alone, it becomes a joy when we enter it with God and all the saints who have ever proclaimed God's name.

Today, ask for the grace to love God unconditionally.

Have you known the unconditional love of God in difficult circumstances?






Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Finding the Path to Unity

"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 Finding theto 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 15, 2018

The Protection of Jesus

"I protected them in your name." Jn 17:11b

When Jesus prays for us in St John's gospel, he assures us that he will protect us but it is natural to ask: from what? Will he free us from all harm, anxiety and darkness? Surely, not. Then what does he mean that he will protect us.

In the scripture, the image of Shepherd says it well. Shepherds in the ancient world lay down at night at the opening of the sheepfold to keep out predators. If the sheep, however, kept escaping from the sheep pen, there was little the shepherd could do. After all, he had many sheep to watch over. That is why Jesus' insistence that he will seek us out when we are lost is so powerful. Not only will he watch over us, he will search for us even when we don't know we are lost. That is what it means to protect us. That we can still resist is not the point. That Jesus wants to be near us is.

Clearly, our task, if we want to have Jesus as a model is to protect others, sometimes from themselves, more often from foolishness. How we do this, especially with family and friends, will be the measure of our Gospel commitment. We cannot take care of others, but we can always care for them by letting them know we are near and ready to help when asked.

Today, ask for the gift of discernment that your care for others might be seen as loving, not manipulative.

Who has helped you most to be yourself and live the Gospel?

Monday, May 14, 2018

God Our Father is always Near

"I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word." Jn 17:6

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. 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. The great saints in every religious tradition teach this consistently.

Ghandi counselled his followers not 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. Rooted in this conviction, he writes: "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, allow yourself to sit quietly surrounded by the great cloud of witnesses. (Heb 12:1)

What spiritual practices help you remember that God is always near?


Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Choice of 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?