In our first reading for today, Acts 18:9-18, the Lord says to Paul (and to you and me!), “Do not be afraid … for I am with you … ” This is a most consoling message. To be human is to be afraid. We all have an abundance of fears. It’s ok to experience fear. What is not ok is to be controlled by fear. As people of faith we know and believe that no matter what happens, the Lord is with us just as He was with Paul. Paul suffered much but the Lord never left him. Today might not go the way we would like it to go, but no matter what happens the Lord is with us and the Lord will see us through.
Alleluia! This is the promise of the Easter Season that we have been celebrating. We are not alone. He is risen. He is with us. Do not be afraid!
For a number of weeks, we have been remembering the great mysteries of the Christian faith: Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead, not like the walking dead portrayed in current films but alive and transformed. Today we recall His Ascension into heaven where He is now with the Father. He commissioned us to bear witness to His Name throughout the world and promised that He would send the Holy Spirit to guide and sustain us.
from Today’s Gospel: Luke 24:46-53:
Jesus said to His disciples: ” Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in His name to all nations … You are witnesses of these things. And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you… ” Then He led them out as far as Bethany, raised His hands and blessed them. As He blessed them, He parted from them and was taken up to heaven. …”
We may give our assent to the above but what does it really mean for us on a day- to- day basis. What does it mean that Jesus died for our sins and rose on the third day? What does it mean that we should be witnesses to these things? What does it mean that the Holy Spirit is with us? Profound mysteries that need to be lived out each day. Today’s reading from Ephesians 1:17-23, tells us, “May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened…” Perhaps this can be our prayer today.
Feeling overwhelmed? I am! So what do I do about it!
I was on a community business trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico, last week. Trip went well but it was demanding. I returned home Saturday night and have been trying to catch up since then. I am dealing with three major projects all at once and, of course, each day finds more on my desk. There doesn’t seem to be enough time to deal with everything. I feel overwhelmed! Sound familiar? So what do I do!
- I acknowledge what has to be done;
- I only have one day at a time. I have to manage my time in a holistic way. I need to attend to my work obligations but also have appropriate time for rest, leisure, friends/family and prayer;
- I need to put aside some time for quiet prayer, preferably at the beginning of the day. When under work pressure the tendency is to let go of prayer time. In fact, time for prayer is more important than ever. It grounds me;
- And I need to remind myself that I am not indispensable – even though I may feel that way!
In today’s first reading, Acts 16:11-15, we meet Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira. We don’t know much about Lydia except that she was a successful business woman, a Gentile who participated in Jewish worship services and through Paul, a convert to Christianity who offered Paul and his companions hospitality as they preached the Gospel in the city of Philippi. One of her most important gifts was that of listening. We read that she
“listened, and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what Paul was saying.”
This listening changed Lydia’s life. The ability to truly listen to what another is saying is a great gift. So often we hear words but do not really listen. We do not really hear what is being said because we are so busy formulating a response. Listening is a discipline that has to be learned. We need to hear not only words but also context, and we need to hear with the heart as well as the mind.
God is always speaking to us
- in the Scriptures
- in the daily events of our lives
- in our friends
- in our enemies
- in the so called accidents of life
- in the beauty of Creation
- in the depths of our hearts
- and in countless other ways.
Like Lydia, may we listen attentively to God speaking to us as God does each day. In listening we open ourselves up to what God is calling us to do and to be.
First of all, a Blessed Easter to all Orthodox Christians who celebrate Easter today. May all Christians someday experience unity in the Risen Lord.
For some of us, today is the Sixth Sunday after Easter. We continue to reflect on the gifts that Jesus gives to us. Our Gospel reading, John 14:23-29, is filled with hope. Jesus says to His disciples (and to us today),
” Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”
Jesus gives us the gift of peace. The word peace is thrown around an awful lot. It’s forever in the news. There is always talk about peace negotiations. People everywhere desperately seek peace and so often peace is not to be found. We look for some fuzzy kind of warm feeling. We do not find it. Jesus tells us that the peace that He gives is not the kind of peace that the world seeks. The peace that Jesus gives us is rooted in a deep inner conviction that no matter what happens in life God is with us and that we have nothing to fear. God will take care of us. The peace that Jesus gives us is the grace to be holy; to resist evil; to reach out to others; the grace to forgive; the grace to be peacemakers.