Saturday, May 22, 2021

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, May 21, 2021

Minding our 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 20, 2021

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 19, 2021

Called to Mission Despite the Cost

 "A great uproar occurred, and some scribes belonging to the Pharisee party stood up and sharply argued, 'We find nothing wrong with this man. Suppose a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?'” Acts 23:9

Being a missionary has always been difficult. Reading about the travels and missionary journeys of St Paul demonstrates this in spades. Paul had to leave the comfort and security of a culture, family and religious system that he knew intimately and enter a totally different world asking God to show him the path to integration and transformation. Being confronted directed by Jesus on the road helped, but Paul's conversion would have many iterations and be ongoing for his entire life. 

The best missionaries, like Paul, must be deep listeners, people who sense the goodness of the people to whom they have been sent and slowly discover that God 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.

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?

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Letting Go for the Sake of God

"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 17, 2021

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, May 16, 2021

Listening to the Holy 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 re-catechized,  re-evangelized, 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?