Monday, May 22, 2017

Being Cherished by the Lord

In today's first reading, Acts 16: 11-15, we meet Lydia, a woman who worshipped God and listened intently to Paul and his companions proclaim the Lord Jesus. As she is listening to Paul, the Lord "opened her heart to pay attention to what Paul was saying." Graces poured into her heart and she and her household asked to be baptized in Christ Jesus.

As you and I listen to the Word of God that comes to us in the Scriptures, in our participation in sacred liturgies, or through others witnessing to the Lord, our hearts, too, are opened by Jesus.  Graces pour in and, like Lydia, hopefully, graces pour out onto others with whom we interact throughout the day!  Triumphantly, through the Holy Spirit operative in our lives, we live the Pascal Mystery as the day unfolds, having sat at the Lord's feet in prayer.

Because of the mercy and compassion of the Lord, we experience what the psalmist in today's responsorial psalm, Psalm 149, says to us; namely, that the "Lord takes delight in his people, and "adorns the lowly with victory."

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Whispers from the Spirit

In today's first reading, Acts 16: 1-10, Paul and Timothy are traveling through various territories and are prevented from going into certain provinces.  The "Spirit of Jesus did not allow them," we are told. In a night vision, Paul is requested to "[c]ome over to Macedonia and help us"and Paul and Timothy do so.

You and  I, like Paul and Timothy, know when the Lord prevents us from doing something we thought was right. We may hear a whisper within us saying: "Don't go in there.""Don't do that!" "Go talk to so and so." "Sit down and be quiet!"  "Ask forgiveness; say you are sorry."  "Volunteer at such and such a place." "Stop seeking revenge," or whatever!  The Spirit now, no less than in the days of Paul and Timothy, guides Jesus' disciples and those who follow God faithfully.

My prayer:  Lord, may I listen to Your instructions, as did Paul and Timothy, and know also when you are preventing me from going in a certain direction when what I am pursuing is not in accord with Your holy will for me or is a choice that will lead me into Satan's trap! Your Spirit, Lord, does not ever mislead me!  May I grow in trusting You, even in the smallest things of life each day: smile, listen to this child, visit this elderly parishioner/Sister, invite so and so to lunch, take time to reflect on today's Scripture readings, pray the rosary, go for a walk out in nature, and so on!  Thank you,Lord for the guidance of Your Spirit. Amen.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Friends of God/of Jesus

In today's first reading, Acts 15:22-31, the apostles and presbyters choose representatives to go to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas to address a serious issue. In the Gospel for today, John 15: 12-17, Jesus tells us that He chooses us and sends us out into the world to bear fruit that will last (that fruit is love).  The God of the Universe chooses us. "It was not you who chose me," Jesus says to us, "but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain..."

Moreover, in this same passage, Jesus tells us that He no longer calls us slaves, "because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard fro my Father."  As a friend of Jesus, you and I can approach Jesus anytime to confide in Him, to seek His counsel, to share the intimacy of our lives with Him.  We are always welcome into His presence.

What an awesome God! What a privilege to be God's/Jesus' friend, His confidante, His beloved son/daughter!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Vine and the Branches

In today's Gospel, John 15: 1-8, Jesus says to us:  "I am the vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you."

Attached to Jesus, the Vine, I am fed with abundance and equipped to do whatever good the Spirit prompts me to do in Jesus' name.  Attached to Jesus, I am able to weather whatever storms I encounter in life this day.  Attached to Jesus, I am able to see through the darkness I may encounter on any given day. Attached to Jesus, I am purified of the lies I "swallow" without being critical of what I hear. Attached to Jesus, I am purified of sin that I may have committed this day.  Attached to Jesus, I am made whole and enlightened. Attachment to Jesus makes me a recipient of Jesus' Wisdom, Jesus' strength, Jesus' courage, Jesus' prudence, Jesus' abundance, Jesus' inheritance and Jesus' divine life! WOW!

To remain attached, I need to seek Jesus above all, drink at the "well" of Jesus' words--the Holy Scriptures, receive the sacraments, and live as Jesus' lived. In short, as we are told in Micah 6: 8, Yahweh asks only this of you: "to act justly, to love tenderly, and to walk humbly with your God." When we do these things, we remain attached to Jesus.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Cost of Discipleship

In today's first reading, Acts 14: 19-28, we are told that Jews from Antioch and Iconium arrived to the place where Paul was proclaiming Christ. These Jews won over the crowd and stoned Paul, leaving him for dead. When disciples of Jesus surrounded Paul, he got up.  These disciples with Paul left for Derbe, where they strengthened the faith of others, exhorted them to remain true to the faith. They also reminded the disciples of Jesus in Derbe that they would suffer much for their faith but not to waver.

I am left when several questions: Do I strengthen others in the faith or do I weaken other's faith by my lack of love and compassion, by my impatience, by my judgmentalism? Do I make life difficult by my grumbling or complaining when I encounter difficulties?  Do I realize that discipleship is costly? And, do I realize, that, like Paul, I sometimes need other disciples to help me get up when I am down?

Jesus tells us before returning to the Father that, like Him, our journey of faith will encounter hard times.  Many times, the difficulties we encounter are unexpected: friends and family turn against us or we are shunned because of our beliefs. Doors are closed in our faces when we think that what we are doing is something to be welcomed or appreciated, or, at least, not blocked.

Jesus says to us not to be afraid, for He has conquered the world, that is the ruler of this world, Satan. We, too, empowered by the Holy Spirit, will overcome the world of sin, of selfishness, of fear--of all that is not of God. And, like Jesus, we will learn obedience from what we suffer,as did St. Paul, St. Francis of Assisi, Mother Frances Streitel, the Foundress of my religious community, to name a few.

These are my beliefs! What are yours?

Monday, May 15, 2017

To God Be Glory Given

In today's first reading, Acts 14:5-18, Paul and Barnabas, through their faith in Jesus and the faith of the man needing healing, restore a man to health, saying to him: "Stand up straight on your feet," and he does.  The crowd immediately proclaimed:  "The gods have come down to us in human form," and prepare to "to offer sacrifice" to Paul and Barnabas.  Appalled, the apostles "rushed out into the crowd, shouting, "Men, why are you doing this? We are of the same nature as you human beings?"

How easy to get lured into being worshipped! How easy to want the glory and the honor that belong to God! How easy, in fact, to expect privileges that belong to God alone and only to God, not to ourselves.  In today's responsorial psalm we pray:  "Not to us, O Lord, but to your name give the glory because of your mercy, because of your truth....Our God is in heaven' whatever he wills, he does. their idols are silver and gold, the handiwork of men [human beings]."

Lord, I ask for forgiveness for the times that I worshipped "the handiwork" that the Holy Spirit  created using my hands, my intelligence, my creativity. Forgive me for the times I wanted to be glorified and did not give the credit for the good I accomplished through You.  "Not to [me], Lord, but to your name give the glory."  May I learn this lesson, Lord!  Thank you!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The gift of salvation

In today’s Gospel, Jn 12: 44-50, Jesus tells us that He came into the world, not to condemn it, but to save it.  He also reminds us that the one who rejects Jesus, and does not receive Jesus’ word, “already has a judge: the very word I  have spoken will condemn [that person] on the last day.”   If I do not believe in Jesus, I also do not believe In him who sent” Jesus and my  unbelief in the Word of God is what condemns me, not God Himself.  I believe and continue to believe that the God who created me, saved me in Christ Jesus and continually sanctifies me in the same Lord and Master enters your life and mine to save us, not condemn us. That is why I pray every day for persons throughout the world that their eyes, and ears, and hearts will be open to God’s love, that all will repent of any wrongdoing and turn to the Lord for mercy!

What is your belief?