Acts 1:15-17, 20-26; John 15:9-17
Today is the feast day of Saint Matthias. How do we share in the “luck” of Saint Matthias who joined the apostles after casting lots? If we imagine ourselves in Matthias’ place, our spot opening up to join the apostles, just after Jesus’ crucifixion. What would our ministry be? How would we live our lives? What can we do today to bring our lives more in congruency with our call?
Acts 1:1-11; Psalm 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9; Eph 1:17-23; Mark 16:15-20
Today’s feast, Ascension Thursday is celebrated on Sunday in many dioceses of the world.
Acts 1:9 is the only canonical text that describes Jesus’ ascent into heaven. “.... as they were looking on, He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him from their sight.”
Forty days after the Resurrection He left them in the flesh. I wonder if they felt what we feel when a loved one moves away or dies. Alone? Abandoned? Desolate? Or did they recall His promise, one that would be fulfilled in ten days? On Pentecost He would return to them pouring out His spirit. What a moment in time, between Ascension and Pentecost, between loss and promise. He does promise that we will see Him again, as we will one day see our loved ones. But what should we do in the meantime?
Acts 17:15, 22–18:1; John 16:12-15
One of man’s great quests is the pursuit of truth. All of us seek the truth. We seek the assurance that what we know is really true. We are opposed to falsehood and deceit. We have no confidence in those who would deceive us by hiding or withholding the truth. We seek the truth in many ways. Students seek the truth in their studies. They want to learn and they seek the truth by the questions that they ask. Lawyers seek the truth in questions pertaining to the law. They want to know the true facts so that they can apply the law properly to the case. Theologians seek the truth about God and his relationship to his creation. They want to learn more about God so that all of us can know God better and follow him more closely.
Acts 16:22-34; John 16:5-11
I tell you the sober truth: It is much better for you that I go. If I fail to go, the Paraclete will never come to you, whereas if I go, I will send him to you.
Lots of ink has been used to try to translate the Greek word, "Paraclete," which Jesus used to refer to the Spirit whom he would send to us. I like to reflect on his promise, by going to the root meaning of the word: para- + kalein. The verb kaleo is "to call." The prefix para adds the sense of "around, near, close by." The most basic meaning of the action described by putting para together with the verb "to call" is something like this: call together. And, so, the simplest sense of the translation of the word, as a proper name, might be, "the Gatherer."
Psalms 149:1b-2, 3-4, 5-6a and 9b
What does it mean to be a good listener? For me, it’s when I really, stop, open my heart and ears and pay attention to what is being said. Being mindful of someone speaking means I’m not glancing at a phone in my hand or papers on my desk or gazing beyond the speaker to the TV in the background. Listening simply means we stop everything and give our attention, like a gift, to the person in front of us.
Acts 10:25-26.34-35.44-48; 1 John 4:7-10; John 15:9-17
As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends.You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you 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 from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another. John 15:9-17
John takes us to the heart of the Christian discipleship: Love for others as God has loved us. He interprets the meaning of Jesus’ death on the cross as his loving sacrifice of himself for us in obedience to God’s loving will and purpose, not only for himself but for the whole world.
Acts 16:1-10; John 15:18-21
John’s gospel for today seems rather depressing, certainly not very inviting. We are being told that the world will hate us and that we will be persecuted because God has chosen us. It reminds me of our kids chiding each other with, “Doesn’t that make you feel special?” when one was asked to do something that no one really wanted to do. I am sitting here sort of like the kids and wondering, do I really want to be the special one to be chosen by God especially if hatred and persecution are the result?
“This is my commandment: love one another as I love you." John 15
We've been reading the powerful words of Jesus to his disciples at the Last Supper. It has been a comforting and consoling invitation to “Remain in me, as I remain in you." And, Jesus said, “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love.” Then Jesus turns from our deep relationship with him to our relationship with others: "Love one another as I love you."
“The whole assembly fell silent and listened.”
Meetings, meetings, and more meetings! Councils, conclaves, conferences, conventions, and committees! Then there are summits, assemblies, reunions, and all kinds of ways we gather together for learning, gathering information, and to make communal, congregational, ecclesial, organizational and even family decisions. Sometime, too, we meet to resolve differences, and to understand more deeply the movement of the Spirit in times of important matters to be addressed. So we can hope! Do we experience silence and truly listen?
In the real spiritual life of an ongoing faith/relationship with the living “de vine” God, we will experience trimming. The blossoms and fruit that this Vinegrower knows are hidden only in potential (even and especially when we do not) are gifts of this greening Spirit. What is coming into being is our, shall we say, “divinization”—our sharing in the very life and “who-ness” of Christ that produces holiness and compassion. These fruits that God sees in us (even when we do not) include virtues our world very much needs in these days: charity, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, awe in God’s presence…..especially peace….
Acts 14:19-28; John 14:27-31a
In today’s gospel reading the risen Jesus tells his disciples: Peace I leave with you; my peace is my gift to you. Is this the same Jesus, who had earlier said: Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace, but the sword [Mt. 10: 34]? A superficial reader might have the impression that Jesus is talking “out of both sides of his mouth,” but we are not called to be superficial readers. I personally think that the apparent conflict has its roots in our uncritical understanding of what that peace is, an understanding (misunderstanding) that is quite common in our “world”. Yet Jesus clarifies the above promise of peace with the words: Not as the world gives do I give it to you.
1 Corinthians 15:1-8
Psalm 19:2-3, 4-5
A lot of us talk about “getting it:” Some people “get it.” Other people are fools and don’t “get it.”
Today we celebrate these two saints who didn’t “get it.” Well, at least it appears that Philip had difficulties “getting it” when Jesus seem to chide him for his statement, “Master, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”