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Saturday, June 8, 2019

Pentecost Sunday

"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

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.

Likewise, 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. Rather, we offer the peace of God that we give freely to those seeking a new way of life. Simple and without conditions, God's love is open to all who are willing to be possessed by God's spirit and root themselves in the commitment to share all God's gifts with all people.

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, June 7, 2019

Minding Our 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, June 6, 2019

Simon,...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, June 5, 2019

Unity in Christ

"That they may be 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, June 4, 2019

St Boniface

"I know that after my departure savage wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock." Acts 20:30

Being a missionary has always been difficult. One must leave the comfort and security of a culture, family and religious system that one knows, and enter a totally different world asking God to show you the path to integration and transformation. The best missionaries have always been the most attentive listeners, people who sense the goodness of the people to whom they have been sent. Knowing they are called, like St Paul, to discover the God who is already present in every culture and people, women and men missionaries live in gratitude and awe because of the God they encounter in the people to whom they have been sent.

St Boniface knew these challenges in spades. Sent to the German church that had lost its way, Boniface had to minister with compassion to an uneducated clergy and a community that was more interested in its own interpretation of the Gospel than the word preached by Jesus. Preaching reform and renewal, Boniface's influence was deep because he not only called people to reexamine their values, he also established houses of prayer throughout Germany. The church only prospers when it builds its catechesis and worship on a foundation of prayer.

Today, pray for those who face a daily martyrdom in their own homes.

Have you experienced faith in another cultural context? What was it like

Monday, June 3, 2019

Jesus' Prayer for Us

"I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them." Jn 17:10

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?

Sunday, June 2, 2019

St Charles Lwanga and Companions

"They seized him, beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent them another servant. And that one they beat over the head and treated shamefully." Mk 12: 3-4

Charles Lwanga, a catechist who refused to renounce his faith even after seeing many of his Ugandan companions martyred, reminds us again of the power of God's grace. Despite being lured by King Mwanga into the royal court and promised real power over others, Charles would not deny  his faith. More, even after he was condemned to die, he continued to urge others to follow Christ.

Although it is sometimes forgotten or ignored by Catholics, Charles was killed along with nine Anglican young men who might not be called martyrs but certainly gave their lives for the Gospel, and deserved to be honored for their sacrifice. Although Charles is revered in Africa and throughout the world for his willingness to die for his beliefs, his life is also a good reminder to work together with other Christians for a just world. While we might disagree about how to speak of the Eucharist or the role of the Holy Father, we surely do agree about what it means to serve and cling God in the face of persecution.

Today, accept whatever suffering comes to you because of your commitment to the Gospel.

What do you most admire in people willing to give their lives for the faith?