Acts 14:5-18 / John 14:21-26
Jesus gives parting advice: “Keep working on love.”
Richard Bach wrote a story called Jonathan Livingston Seagull. One of the characters in it is an old teacher named Chiang, who has had a great influence on Jonathan. The day finally comes when old Chiang must leave his young student forever. Jonathan knows it’s a special moment and wonders what parting advice his old teacher will give him. Chiang’s farewell message contained just four words: “Keep working on love.”
This is the same parting advice that Jesus gave to his own disciples: “Keep working on love.”
How faithfully are we carrying out Jesus’ parting advice?
“We have learned to fly in the air like birds and to swim in the sea like fish. But we have not learned the simple act of living together like brothers.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
It should be of no surprise to us that life has its cycle of ups and downs. One moment we can be happy and next moment we can be angry. One day, we can be effective and productive and the next day we can be like a zero. Connected with the cycle of ups and downs is the reversal of fortunes. In one place we find acceptance but, in another place, we find rejection. That was the experience of Paul and Barnabas in the 1st reading. In their mission, they faced persecution and they had to scramble for safety to Lycaonia.
There in the towns of Lystra and Derbe they preached the same Good News and Paul even healed a crippled man. They not only found acceptance from the people, they were even treated like gods, which of course they tried to resist. So Paul and Barnabas knew what it was to preach the Good News. There were ups and downs together with a reversal of fortunes.
But whichever way it was going and in whatever way it was turning out, they kept the Word of God and were faithful to it. The Word of God made its home in their hearts and they found refuge and consolation and strength in the Word of God. So as we go through our ups and downs in life and see our fortunes reversing for better or for worse, let us turn to the Word of God.
May the Word of God give us consolation and strength and may the Word of God make its home in our hearts.****
Monday of 5th Week of Easter - Liturgy
GOD LIVING IN US
In the first reading, Luke shows Paul working the same signs among pagans as Peter among the Jews (here the cure of a crippled person), and preaching the same message. In the Gospel, Christ speaks of God’s indwelling. In the Old Testament, God’s dwelling place was first the Tent and the Ark of the Covenant, then later, the Temple. The Temple was the sign that God lived among and with his people. This was taken often too materially and almost magically. God’s presence was more interior, i.e., through his wisdom found in the hearts of the just, said the wisdom books. Christ says that God’s presence is much more intimate: he lives by love in the hearts of those who love him and keep his word, a presence that can be known only by one who loves. Christ will manifest his presence among us now in the Eucharist.
-With Paul and Barnabas, we too say, “Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name give glory, LHM
-With Paul and Barnabas, we too say, “because of your mercy, because of your truth. We are not gods”, CHM
--With Paul and Barnaas, we too say, “We are of the same nature as you, human beings.”, LHM
Lord God, loving Father, we look for your presence in the temple of nature and in churches built by our hands, and you are there with your people. But above all, you have made your temple right here in our hearts. God, give us eyes of faith and love to recognize that you live in us, with your Son and the Holy Spirit, if we keep the Word of Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord for ever.
“Not tous O Lord...but to your name give the glory.” These words from Psalm 115, found in today’s responsorial, express well the sentiments of Paul during his ministry. It is seen in the attempt of the citizens of Lystra to deify him and Barnabas after the cure of the lame man. The apostles emphasize that it was the true God who had effected the cure, albeit through human instruments. Paul instinctively drew back from any form of hero worship. The community at Corinth was drawn into camps that championed Peter, Apollos, or Paul. Paul states clearly that he wants no part of it. He asks, “Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Cor 1:13). Young people today look for role models, a pursuit that can have its positive features. The problem lies in the fact that so often in those heroes human weaknesses soon emerge. In church life, the same situation may obtain. A pastor who serves his people diligently and tirelessly is recognized as such. But it can happen that our vision is too centered on human qualities, while the purpose of all ministry is to keep us centered on the Lord. Our sense of admiration may never deflect from that singular vision. It all too often happens that we may have a pastor for a number of years who is gifted with leadership and a caring spirit, only to be followed by a pastor who lacks those qualities. When all is said and done, it is the Lord whom we serve, and that remains true when times are good or bad. Jesus in today’s Gospel sums it up well. “Those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.” That is the leader around whom we all place our fidelity. Let us praise the name of Jesus Christ, now and forever!
Points to Ponder
Christ as the center of our lives
The place of human role models
A faith that goes beyond the human
– That we bear witness that we are disciples of Jesus by loving one another deeply and sincerely, we pray:
– Now that Christ is no longer physically among us, we may discover his presence in every human face, we pray:
– That the Holy Spirit may teach us to live by the Word we have heard from Christ speaking to us in the Gospel, we pray:
Prayer over the Gifts
Lord, our God, loving Father, your Son Jesus Christ is here with us as we are gathered in his name in this Eucharistic assembly. Give him to us now as our bread and wine, our food and drink, that where we are, you may be present, because your Son is alive in us, he who lives with you and in us forever.
Prayer after Communion
Lord our God, loving Father, we thank you for giving us your Son and for letting him live in us. Help us to live the kind of life he lived and wants us to live, a life of obedience to your will and of dedication to people and to our task in life. Through us, you may be present in this cold, calculating world and bring to it the warmth of love, of friendship and compassion, through Christ who lives in us now, we hope and pray, forever.
Jesus assures us that we are certain that our Father in heaven loves us and lives in us if we live according to his words. We hear his words and we know them. Let us live accordingly, with the blessing of Almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.