"My sheep hear my voice." Jn 10:27
Whose voice was most important to your growth as a person?
"My sheep hear my voice." Jn 10:27
"Many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer walked with him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, 'Do you also want to leave?'” Jn 6:67When friends are not who we thought them to be, especially if they speak poorly of us, we are disappointed and disillusioned. We might even be tempted to end our friendship, or at the very least step away from it for a while. Shock does that to us. Unsure of someone else, we also wonder how we missed something important about them. Were we so needy that we failed to realize that our relationship was not as secure or as deep as we imagined?
"Scales fell from Paul's eyes and he regained his sight." Acts 9:18
“'Do you understand what you are reading?' He replied, 'How can I, unless someone instructs me?'” Acts 8:30
Unfortunately, in a Twitter world where all communication is limited to 280 characters, too many believers cling to or focus on one phrase from the Gospel and use it as a lens for their spiritual lives. Doing this almost always leads to misunderstanding and confusion. The New Testament cannot be fairly read or understood when we remove it from its own cultural context and setting.The Ethiopian eunuch reading the scriptures alone knew he needed help and asked Philip to instruct him There should be little doubt that Philip responded to this seeker's request using all the information and skill he had. Blessed with so much wonderful scholarship and insight, we ought to follow Philip's example in the 21st century. Don't just read the scripture regularly or return to your favorite passages, taste the Word of God, chew on it and savor it.
"As they traveled along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look, there is water. What is to prevent my being baptized?” Then he ordered the chariot to stop, and Philip and the eunuch both went down into the water, and he baptized him."
The Easter season is a time when we remember Baptism, especially our own, but because most of us were baptized as infants, we don't remember it. Sometimes it might help to reflect and meditate on photos of our baptism, but even better we might read the ritual of baptism, stopping regularly and picturing what it was like to have a priest or deacon sign us the sign of the cross and invite our parents and Godparents to do the same.
This simple gesture, often called the laying on of hands, symbolizes the handing over to each person being baptized the entirety of faith. More important, as each infant grows into a child and then an adult, it is the task of the community of faith to remind each of us of this great gift. Baptism reminds us that we are never alone, we are surrounded and strengthened by every person, living and dead, who has ever professed the name of Jesus.
Today, take some time to remember and be grateful for your baptism.
Who has helped you remember the great gifts of baptism?
"Saul, meanwhile, was trying to destroy the Church; entering house after house and dragging out men and women, he handed them over for imprisonment. Now those who had been scattered went about preaching the word." Acts 8: 3-4It is startling to hear about Saul's (St Paul's) violent assault on those professing faith in Jesus. It is one thing to attack men physically, but dragging women out of their homes and throwing them into prison tells us not only about Saul's vitriol, but about the level of upset the Jewish community had with those who would soon be called Christians. Violence against women, and others without social standing, is always a sign of a person or culture that is out of control.
"He gave them bread from heaven to east." Jn 6:31It is difficult to imagine what it must have been like for Christians at the beginning of the fourth century. For three centuries they had been persecuted. Welcome neither in Jerusalem's synagogues nor Rome's temples, they hid in the catacombs or died in the Coliseum, but within fifty years of the conversion of Constantine, Christianity became the state religion and anyone who sought office in the Roman empire had first to be baptized.