Acts 8:1b-8; John 6:35-40
After just a few minutes of reflection on today's readings, I realized that each of them put emphasis on ideas that could be expressed with words beginning with the letter P -- words like "persecution" and "perseverance." Quite quickly a flood of other "P" words came to mind: patience, and prayer and praise, proclamation and possession and petition. Even in the phrase from Acts, "crippled people," the letter stands out. And all of these words are as relevant today as they were 2000 years ago. Around the world there are those who are persecuted as the early Christians were persecuted, because of their race, their religion, their ethnicity, their ideas or poverty. Our patience is tested by intractable wars, and by violence in our cities and towns, by sickness and natural disaster. On a positive note, the glorious colors, smells and sounds of spring are prompting our praise of the Creator of all the natural wonders. Whether we suffer or celebrate, we have reasons for prayer.
People can be so blind. They can’t see what’s right in front of them. In the first reading Stephen chastises the people because they had the right information, they were told by prophets and angels but they wouldn’t believe it. They denied the prophecies, they put the prophets to death, and when Stephen reminds them that those prophecies came true – they were told the truth but wouldn’t accept and acknowledge it – they get so angry at him that they stone him to death. I suppose he should have seen it coming, given their past history with prophecy. Plus, people don’t like to be told they’re wrong or have their mistakes shown to them. But then that just perpetuates the blindness. It turns out that Stephen had it right too, and the people he was trying to help kept getting it wrong.
1 Cor 15:1-8; John 14:6-14
The Gospel reading features Philip’s final appearance in the Gospel account. It happens during the long account of the Last Supper which we find in John and where Jesus speaks at length to his disciples. They must have been in somewhat of a confused state, knowing that the enemies of Jesus were practically outside the door waiting to destroy him. There were still many parts of Jesus’ teaching that they did not understand.
Acts 5:27-32, 40b-41
Psalm 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11-12, 13
So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin,
rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name. Acts 5
And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.” John 21
I love the story from Acts. I've always been in awe of those Apostles who were so filled with the Spirit that they left this humiliating experience of being hauled up before the religious leaders and left rejoicing - seeing it as a privileged opporunity to share an intimacy with their Lord, in the dishonor of it all. I have often prayed, as I did today, that I might be drawn into a deeper love for our Lord and into a deeper freedom that I might rejoice, rather than grumble, at experiences which appear costly to me, in service of his name.
Acts 6:1-7; Psalm 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19; John 6:16-21
We belong to various communities and groups. Some of them are ‘blood’-based communities – our families. Some are networks based on choice – our friends, people who have the same interests as we have, and so on. Some are work and career oriented – class mates and work mates. Some are grounded in shared beliefs and understandings about life and the world – religious groups, churches, and ideological movements to whom we belong. All these communities face threats: threats from the outside and threats from the inside. This came to my mind when I read the two readings of today. They remind us that challenges endanger our communities.
Psalms 27:1, 4, 13-14
We have been reading the Acts of the Apostles since the Easter season began. Through these readings we have been witnesses of all the healing and preaching in the name of Jesus that the apostles have been doing. We have been witnesses of the absolutely fearless joy that invaded their hearts, so much so, that “... It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4: 20 The apostles are imprisoned and leave the jail without unlocking the doors and go back to the temple to preach and heal and baptize in the name of Jesus, there is no threat from the Sanhedrin that seems to stop them, or even give them a pause. They had received the Holy Spirit and they remain open to the Spirit’s gifts to them and they cannot, not share that life in the Spirit.
Acts 5:27-33; John 3:31-36
“We must obey God rather than men.”
Acts of the Apostles
In Luke’s version of the Passion the disciples demonstrate what ordinary people they were. During the Last Supper, they argued about who is the greatest. Then when Jesus told Peter that he would deny him, Peter says no way. He’d risk prison and even death before that – and we all know how that one comes out.
Then during the agony in the garden, the disciples keep falling asleep and Jesus has to wake them up to try to get them to pray. The apostles aren’t highly visible during the crucifixion either, unlike the women whom Luke mentions several times.Fast forward to today’s reading from Acts and juxtapose it against Luke’s account of the Passion and you get a sense of the amazing impact of the Resurrection in the lives of these men – and by extension the potential for transformation of our lives.
Prayer to St. Joseph
Patron Saint of Workers,
We ask for your blessing upon all of our efforts.
May our work each day be a blessing
Which allows us to recognize the dignity of human labor.
May we see our work as an opportunity
To build up the Kingdom of God.
With you as our model and example,
May we be instruments of the love and peace
Which the gospel calls us to share
In every aspect of our lives.
Help us in our daily labor and encourage all those
Who seek meaningful work. Amen
Acts 4:32-37; John 3:7-15
“None of them claimed anything as his own; rather everything was held in common. With power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.”
When we know in poverty of spirit that everything is a gift, our hearts begin again to taste Jesus’ love alive. This love penetrates basic fears surrounding our ownership of things.
Are we anything apart from what we own and possess? In our real poverty of spirit, our nothingness, without property, homes, cars, titles, computers and brand name clothes, what are we?
Acts 4:23-31; John 3:1-8
In the gospel story there are some people who are mentioned very briefly and about whom we would like to know much more than what the gospel tells us. For me, one such person is Nicodemus, a central figure in today's gospel reading. Nicodemus is mentioned only in the gospel of St. John. He refers to Nicodemus on three occasions, and all three are very brief. We don't know much about Nicodemus, but we do know a few things. We know that he had a Greek name, Nicodemus, but we don't know what his Hebrew name was. St. John tells us that Nicodemus was a pharisee. He was also probably a member of the Sanhedrin, the ruling council of Israel. So Nicodemus was a man of power and influence in Jerusalem.