Saturday, May 30, 2020

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 2:2-3

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 29, 2020

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 28, 2020

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 27, 2020

Searching for Unity

"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, May 26, 2020

Letting Go for the Sake of God's Kingdom

"They were all weeping loudly as they threw their arms around Paul and kissed him, for they were deeply distressed that he had said that they would never see his face again." Acts 20:38

These days of the Corona Virus Pandemic keep all of us aware that life is short, sometimes harsh and that most people die alone. This a frightening and confusing picture. In the United States we have tried to create a world in which people, even when they are hospitalized, are surrounded by family and friends as they prepare to die. This is not, however, what happens to most people in the world, and it is not the picture Acts of the Apostles paints for us as Paul leaves Rome and heads back to Jerusalem.

Paul has alerted his disciples that he will most probably never see them again and he wants his followers to be at peace even though he knows they will face terrible trials for the sake of the Gospel. Can we do the same? Can we say to friends and family that we trust God completely to help us through our struggles, and that even if we don't see them again, we know that our love for one another was authentic, real and lasting? If this is not how we have lived, then we need to begin to live this way today and trust God to do the rest.

Go beyond your feelings today and embrace someone with prayer and love who you have avoided.

What can you do today to trust God to lead you toward authentic reconciliation and hope?

Monday, May 25, 2020

Living a Public Life of Faith

"What will happen to me there (in Jerusalem) 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 22-23

Faith is costly. St Paul knew this. When in Acts of the Apostles he warns the disciples to be faithful to the living word of Jesus, he knows some of them will be threatened, punished and even lose their lives. As he prepares to return to Jerusalem, he reminds the disciples that he did everything he could for them and will continue to do so, despite the cost, and expects them to do the same for one another and for the Gospel

Sometimes, because we live in the developed world, faith is not terribly costly. We are free for the most part to practice our faith and live it in freedom without too many threats from our government or culture, but we have to be cautious. If the only reason our faith is easy to practice is because we don't challenge the authorities then we have to reflect seriously about our public lives. Do we really work to protect life from its beginnings to its natural end? Do we work for a society that treasures children in the womb, those living on the edge of our society, the developmentally disabled and the elderly. These are real questions in the midst of pandemic and we cannot shrink from them.

Today, take a look at your village or city's budget and ask yourself about its priorities?

Whose public life of faith most impresses you?

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Listening to the Spirit

 “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” They answered him, “We have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” Acts 19:2

Most of us were "catechized" early in life. We learned about the Gospel and its interpretation through a Catholic Christian lens.  We were introduced to the Creed, something not available to Paul or the earliest disciples of Jesus, and we grew in understanding, and occasionally in wisdom. Mostly, as children we grew in loyalty to the Catholic tradition and its beauty, but as we age it is important to be recatechized,  reevangelized, to learn about and be transformed by the Good News as adults.

Acts of the Apostles reminds us that many of the earliest disciples of St Paul, drawn to the mystery of Jesus, needed to learn more about the faith, especially the role of the Holy Spirit, and so do we. Instruction in our faith, utilizing simple and clear methods and language, is fine for children, but as we grow in faith, we need to take more time for prayer and reflection so that we can hear the Holy Spirit and be transformed more deeply into what Pope Francis calls "missionary disciples".  Practically, this means we need to listen quietly to the promptings of the Spirit, test them in conversation with others, and hand ourselves over the Spirit as guide and strength for the journey.

Today, take extra time for quiet, read a few verses of the Scripture, and listen.

Who taught you about the importance of listening to the Holy Spirit in order to grow in faith?