Sorry NO post for next fifteen days...on pilgrimage to the Holyland!!
God Bless +
Sunday, May 5, 2013
Peace I leave with you. (John 14:27)
Rarely is a passage from Scripture as Trinitarian as these few verses. This passage comes from Jesus’ farewell address at the Last Supper: the final words that he gave his disciples before he was arrested and crucified (John 13-17). In these five chapters, Jesus focuses on the relationship between God as Trinity and his people. They show us how much God wants to draw every single person to himself, and they show us what we should do if we want to be filled with his peace.
Today’s passage contains many of the themes that we find in the whole five chapters of Jesus’ farewell message. He tells the disciples how much the Father loves them. He tells them that his Father wants to make his home in the hearts of all people who love him. He speaks about the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives and about the blessings we experience when we obey God’s commands. It’s amazing how, in just a few short sentences, Jesus says so much about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit!
Now, even though the Trinity is a mystery of our faith, we don’t have to understand it perfectly to experience the peace that our Triune God wants to give us. Few of us know how a watch, a car, or a computer works. But we all have experienced the benefits these things give us. And so it is with God. When Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you,” he is offering us a share in the harmony and communion that exist within the Trinity. He is offering us true, deep, lasting peace.
This peace is not just a warm feeling. It’s the grace to be holy and to resist evil. It’s the grace to forgive. It’s the grace to remind us that God is with us and that we have nothing to fear (John 14:27). It’s the spiritual tranquility that comes from the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
“Jesus, I want to be filled with your peace now and always.”
Saturday, May 4, 2013
We sought passage to Macedonia at once, concluding that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them. (Acts 16:10)
“Did you hear me? Were you even listening?” That sounds like something a teacher or parent would say, doesn’t it? But it’s not just children who need to learn the connection between hearing and listening. We may hear people talking all the time, but if we want a relationship with someone, we need to do some active listening as well. And nowhere is this more true than when it comes to our relationship with God.
When it comes to listening to God, the problem is, oftentimes, that we don’t always know what to listen for. That’s because God usually “speaks” in ways that don’t involve our ears. Add to that the fact that our own lack of expectation can make it hard for us to identify his voice when he does speak. Like schoolchildren everywhere, we haven’t yet learned the art of careful listening—and, like schoolchildren everywhere, we assume that our Father doesn’t have anything to say.
But the Book of Acts shows us that the apostles learned to listen to the Holy Spirit—and that we can learn as well. Because of their pioneering work as missionaries, Paul and his companions needed constant guidance from the Spirit. You can imagine that they learned from Peter and John and the other original disciples the habit of regular prayer, fellowship, and studying the Scriptures (Acts 2:42). But they also learned other ways like casting lots (1:26), being open to angelic guidance (8:26), and even taking their cue from visions (9:3; 10:11)!
Now, we may not experience visions and angels as Paul and Luke and the others did, but if we stay alert, we will see other signs. Of course we can expect to hear him through the words of Scripture and the Church. But we can also hear him speaking through our circumstances, through our Christian brothers and sisters, even through the beauty and majesty of his creation. God wants to teach us and to give us direction, and he will do this in many ways. So watch and listen today, and find out what God has to say to you.
“Holy Spirit, I believe that you want to speak to me. Teach me to listen to you.”
Friday, May 3, 2013
Master, show us the Father. (John 14:8)
We know nothing for certain about what happened to either of these apostles after Jesus’ resurrection. However, the Gospel of John gives us several revealing glimpses of the apostle Philip. On several occasions, he was able to verbalize what others were thinking or wondering. We can only hope that Jesus’ responses moved all of them—especially Philip, who dared to ask the questions—along in their faith.
At the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry, it is Philip who tells his friend Nathanael about this rabbi from Nazareth (John 1:43-46). Instead of getting into a theological argument, he invites Nathanael to come meet Jesus for himself. And Jesus, who knows Nathanael inside and out, does the rest.
Before Jesus feeds a huge crowd, he asks Philip where they can get enough food for everyone (John 6:5). Philip expresses what everyone must have been thinking: There’s no way! But then he follows Jesus’ directions and shares in a miracle that reveals a food that lasts forever. When some Gentiles want to meet Jesus, Philip approaches the Master on their behalf (John 12:20-22). And in today’s passage, it is Philip who pleads for what they all want: “Show us the Father” (14:8).
Jesus seldom gives a straight-forward answer to Philip’s questions. Philip has to listen closely and turn Jesus’ words over in his mind before understanding what Jesus means. We don’t know the outcome for the Greeks and most of the people on the hillside, but we do know that Philip became sufficiently convinced to lay down his life for Jesus.
Perhaps you could stir up the gift Philip used so effectively by taking your questions to the Lord, even as you bring other people to him. Sometimes it will mean persisting in your own prayer until you hear the Lord answering your deeper concerns. Sometimes it will mean interceding for someone in the quiet of your heart, and other times it will mean delving into Scripture to build up your own understanding. Sometimes this will mean asking a friend, “Can we pray together about that?” and offering a simple prayer. Whatever you do, invite the Lord to be with you, and watch what he does.
“Jesus, teach me how to be a true friend, just as Philip was.”
Thursday, May 2, 2013
As the Father loves me, so I also love you. (John 15:9)
How can it be, Lord, that the way you love me is just the same as the way the Father loves you? How can it be that the love that permeates the Trinity itself is the same love you pour out on me? It’s too much for me to absorb!
Sometimes I think of your love as a kindly, patient, forgiving love when I think of my own unworthiness. And it is that—but it is so much more than just an expression of your forgiveness of my sins!
Lord, the love that the Father has for you is immense! It is creative and life-giving, always flowing, unchanging yet ever new. It is the same love that you showed when you created the world. It’s a love that imparts to your creation goodness and harmony and generosity. I am amazed that this is how you love me, too. You created me because you wanted me to share in your love and generosity. You created me because you wanted me to reflect your goodness to the world. And you didn’t stop there. Day after day, you are constantly pouring your love into me—even when I can’t feel it or see it or touch it!
When I think of how the Father looks at you, Jesus, I am speechless. I can try to imagine the Father gazing on you with deep pleasure and joy, but words fail me. And then to think that you, Jesus, look at me with the same love, seeing the goodness I was created to have in your image, seeing your approval of every step I take toward you—I can only bask in this love, filled with wonder and awe.
Thank you, Jesus! In your extravagant love, you have brought me into the love of the Trinity! You have given me a share in the divine life that you experience with your Father in heaven. You have expanded my horizons so that I can see beyond myself, even into your perfect eternity. I know it’s not much when compared with your love for me. But still, I can’t help saying it: I love you, Jesus!
“Lord, expand my heart and mind so that I can grasp, even if only a little, the vast love you have for me!”
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
The apostles and the presbyters met together to see about this matter. (Acts 15:6)
Paul and Barnabas headed to Jerusalem with a burning question. Some believers from Judea had come to Antioch, where Paul and Barnabas were leading the Church, and began telling the gentile Christians that they had to be circumcised and adhere to the Mosaic Law if they wanted to be saved.
As you can imagine, this caused a lot of confusion, so the two apostles decided to bring the question before Peter and the other leaders of the Jerusalem church. Together, these apostles would seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
But the apostles and elders didn’t meet just to answer a question about Church policy. Their higher goal was to preserve the unity of the body of Christ. They understood the great treasure they had been given, and they wanted to do everything they could to guard and protect this treasure. They could see that this question of circumcision threatened to split the Church—and it threatened the faith of its newest, most vulnerable members. So they gathered as brothers in the Lord to talk, pray, and listen to the Holy Spirit.
In the course of our lives, we will all face challenges. How vital it is, at these times, that we ask the Holy Spirit to lead us and guide us! How vital it is, too, that we stay close to our brothers and sisters in the Lord! You never know what words of wisdom or encouragement they may have for you—words from the Lord himself. Over and over, the stories in the Book of Acts tell us that when we look to the Spirit and cling to each other, God fills us with his life and power.
God uses many ways to lead and guide us, but none of them are more comforting or assuring than when he chooses to speak through a close friend or family member. So take your cue from Paul and Barnabas. Draw close to the Holy Spirit by staying close to your brothers and sisters in Christ.
“Holy Spirit, thank you for promising me your wisdom and strength. Open my ears so that I can hear your voice. Open my heart so that I can trust you more deeply.”
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
They called the church together and reported what God had done with them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. (Acts 14:27)
Having returned to Antioch, Paul and Barnabas had so much to report to the elders there who had sent them out to spread the gospel. Surely they shared wonderful stories of how God had led them into new territories and inspired their preaching. They told about the miracles of healing God had done—even how God had restored Paul after his enemies thought they had killed him (Acts 14:19-20). God had opened door after door, especially those doors in the hearts of people who heard about Jesus for the first time and became believers.
During this Year of Faith, God is ready to open door after door for us as well. He wants to give us countless opportunities to share our faith with the people around us. Remember: if Jesus can even pass through walls in order to reach people, he surely can take you to new places and new environments where you can touch people with the message of God’s love and mercy.
So what are some of the doors that may open in front of you? Perhaps you are celebrating with the new parishioners who came into the Church during the Easter Vigil. Their stories are just beginning. It’s possible that God is asking you to journey with them in faith and to support them as they take up the life they have just received. Perhaps a Bible study has just begun in your parish, and you sense the opportunity to join so that you can share your story with your fellow parishioners—and be built up by the witness of their faith. Maybe you feel called to reach out to a neighbor in need, or to show an anxious co-worker a glimpse of God’s kindness and compassion as you listen to her worries and offer to pray with her.
Paul and Barnabas walked through the door of faith when they went on their missionary trip. When we walk through our own doors, we too will find amazing things to report. So take the risk, and see what happens. The possibilities are as endless as God himself!
“Father, you aren’t finished with me yet. Help me be brave enough to walk through the doors that you open for me.”