What will our new names be?

 

Fourth Week of Easter Weekday Tuesday

Acts 11: 19-26

John 10: 22-30

Go up to different people and say, “You use to be called by this name, now you are going to be called, insert a new name.” This is what is going on in our readings. To be given a new name, signified that a huge change has taken place in the person’s life.

In our Gospel the Jewish people say, “Speak plainly to us, of who you are.” Jesus responds, “I have shown you who I am by all of my actions, and you still do not believe.” He gives his followers a new name by calling them his “sheep.” His sheep know him by his voice and they follow him.” So the voice of Jesus Christ is very important.

At the time of our first reading, after the death of Stephen, the disciples disperse all over the known world. They speak only to the Jewish people. At this time this new faith is clearly a movement within Judaism, sort of running alongside of it. In Antioch something new begins to happens, men from Cyprus, and island east of Greece, and a man from Cyrene with is modern day Africa come to Antioch and preach to gentiles and they are converted to this new faith. The news goes all the way back to Jerusalem, some 400 miles away, and Barnabas comes to check this out and rejoices and encourages this to happen even more. It is in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christian.

What name would someone give us by watching us move about our day? Hopefully, our new names will be “caring” “loving” “forgiveness” “courage” and or faithfulness.

 

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We hear his vioce

 

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Acts: 27-32, 40-41

Revelation 5:11-14

John 21:1-19

How close are we to Jesus Christ today? Do we feel his presence and know that he is here with us? If God seems far away, then who moved? There is something we can do to help this relationship grow and it is in our readings today.

The last line of the Gospel says, “The Father and I are one.” We tend to skip right over this like it is no big deal, but it is a big deal! When the Jewish people heard Jesus say, “The Father and I are one” this was a huge stumbling block. I think it is good to pause for a moment and unpack why this is a big deal and what it must mean to us. What this means is Jesus knows the Father more than any human being. Their presence to each other is so intimate that neither reduces the other, but each complete the other. It is a lot more theological then this but what I want to focus on is that Jesus Christ and God the Father have a unique relationship, and this is important for the next point I would like to make.

In the first line of the Gospel, Jesus is establishing another kind of intimate relationship as he says, “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they know me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand.” This is wonderful to hear, but there is a big challenge in this statement, and it is not on the end of Son or the Father! They are doing their part, for the sheep are in their hands. The challenge is on us! Because we only become a member of the flock when we hear the voice of the one who is calling us. 

The Good News is if we do listen, and hear this voice, and do the will of the Father, there are benefits that are given to us. The benefits are that God knows us; he protects us, and he gives us eternal life. Now that is an awesome insurance plan, and the only thing it is going to cost us is to listen, and to act.

So, back to my original question, “How close are we to Jesus Christ today? Do we feel his presence and know that he is here with us?” If it needs to be better, then let us listen. Where is God asking us to go, to do or to say something? The Eucharist is offered to us, to know he is with us, to know that he is leading us, and to help us to act more on his word. May we listen more this week to the voice of the Good Shepherd.

My plans fail without God

 

Third Week of Easter Thursday

Acts 8: 26-40

John 6: 44-51

With 100 percent certainty, I can tell you, whenever I am having a crisis in my life, my idea fails every time. I fail! My idea’s stink! All of my crises need the God test. I need to listen to heed God’s word and obey. Then my crisis is abated because it’s God’s plan, and it succeeds every time!

In our Gospel today, Jesus says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them.” I love the word, “draws” God draws us to himself. What this tells me is the spirit of God is stirring in us, crying out within us. We need to be attentive to that spirit. Do we know what that feels like when the spirit is moving us?  

In our first reading, Philip is doing just what we need to do! Philip is told by an angel, “get up and go” and he meets a man from Ethiopia, who is having someone read to him sacred scripture, but he does not understand what is being read. Philip doing what God wants him to do, because he is open to God’s spirit, begins to explain the meaning of what is being read, and the man has a conversion experience and is baptized. That is all God’s doing!

When we give our day, when we give our concerns over to God, we need to place our trust that God will bring about the good in whatever we bring him.

It is now up to us to trust, that this simple bread and wine will be changed into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ to change us, to trust in his will.  

 

The hardest assignment

Third Week of Easter Tuesday

Acts 8:1-8

John 6: 35-40

Have three straws in my hand each a different length. Have three different people to pick a straw. The one with the shortest straw say, “You are now going on the most dangerous mission. What will be one thing that you will need to bring?”  

Yesterday in our first reading, we heard about the death of Stephen. Today we hear that the disciples are fleeing to the surrounding countries. Philip draws the short straw and goes to Samaria. Samaria is the place that was so hostile to Jesus and the others that he forbade his missionaries from going there. Most Jews regarded the Samaritans as ignorant, superstitious, mongrels, outside of God’s favor or consideration. This is the toughest assignments to get, and Philip goes. However, Philip goes and many unclean spirits are sent away, and crippled people were healed and the people are filled with joy.

Philip is sustained and protected by the words in our Gospel, Jesus says, “And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, and they shall be lifted up on the last day.”  

How do we respond to this promise of Christ, in light of feeling like we may have drawn the short straw on an assignment? The Eucharist we share gives us the strength to God calls us!

 

 

What are the signs of Christ right now in our life?

 

Tuesday Third Weekday Easter

Acts 7:51-8:1

John 6: 30-35

Each year the Maple tree outside my kitchen window of my home in GH, grows these big furry buds. When it is the right time it drops those big furry buds, and leaves grow. This is a sure sign to me that spring has arrived. We have many signs that are beginning to pop up that spring is coming. Our readings today are about readings the signs that are right in front of us?

The set up to our story in our Gospel, is Jesus has just fed the crowd of 5000 with five loaves and two fish. They realize that Jesus is claiming to be greater than Moses. They ask him to do a sign that is greater than Moses. Jesus tries to redirect their thoughts from their ancestral past to the present and what is happening right in their midst.

In the Books of Acts, Stephen was a great prophet for God, and he is connecting all the signs that Jesus Christ is who he says he is, the Savior of the world. The elders and the scribes are so upset at for speaking that they grind their teeth and they put their hands over their ears, so they cannot hear him. Before he is killed Stephen infuriates his opponents by calling them a stiff neck people, who fail to see the sigh of who Jesus Christ is. As he falls to his knees, he asks the Lord not to hold this against them. This is a sign of a true prophet.

In both our first reading and our gospel the evidence for Jesus were very strong but the people failed to see the signs. What are the signs that are right in front of us, where God is leading us? May we always know the sign of Jesus Christ present to us in this Eucharist.

 

Do you love me?

 

Third Sunday of Easter

Acts 5: 27-32, 40-41

Revelation 5:11-14

John 21:1-19

There is a question that is asked in our Gospel that many of us want an answer to and that is, “Do you love me?” We need someone to answer “yes” to this question so we have a reason to go on. We might ask this of someone, or we may even ask this of God. The question is a good one, the answer can have a life time effect on us. Our readings today are about that question, “Do you love me?” and the answer to that question.

In our Gospel, there are three things that really intrigue me, and each of them are significant to the build up to the ending of the gospel. The first is that John describes this encounter with Jesus at a “charcoal fire.” The gospel writer wants to take us back to the moment when the answer to the question was “no.” This was when Peter, denied Jesus, in Annas’s courtyard, by a “charcoal fire.” However, Jesus goes back to the time when the answer to the question was “yes” by calling Peter, Simon, Son of John. This was the name of Peter when Jesus and Peter met for the first time. Now Jesus can ask Peter what he wants to know and that is, “Do you love me?” Jesus asks, three different times to cover each time that Peter denied him. Peter would answer each time, “Lord, you know that I love you!” (Pause) The question is about love, why did Jesus not answer three times back, “Then love my sheep?” Isn’t loving his sheep good enough? No! Jesus knows that Peter is to be the chief shepherd of his church. Jesus knows that words can be cheap, actions are for real. Jesus wants Peter to be the shepherd who will be willing to lay down his life for his sheep. Jesus ends by saying, “Follow me!”

We need to reflect on the answer to the question, “Do you love me?” in two ways. The first is by hearing our God say to us, “Do you know that I love you?” This is where it all begins. Let me declare, “I love you, and I am willing to lay down my life for you.” Hopefully you know this!

Once we know the love of the Father, then we need to answer the question of Jesus to Peter and now to us, “Do you love me?” The answer to this question is going to cost us our very lives.

The Eucharist is given to us to strength us to answer as Peter did, “Lord, you know that I love you, and I will lay down my life for you.”

 

 

Here is our test!

 

Easter Weekday Friday

Acts 5:34-42

John 6: 1-15

Ok, class put away your books and papers and take out your pencils. It is time for a surprise test! Just the sound of that rolling of my tongue is enough to send shock waves through me. The nuns at St. Timothy’s were great at giving surprise tests. Every day we live is a test, a test to see how we will respond to situations by our faith.

In our gospel, Jesus has been teaching and preaching all day to 5000 people, and he knows they are hungry and tired. He turns to Philip as a surprise test and asks, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” Philip responds, “Two hundred days wages worth of food would not be enough.” Philip did not fare so well on the test. Andrew would do a bit better by saying, “We have five loaves and two fish.”

In our first reading from the Book of Acts, the Jewish Sanhedrin was putting the apostle to a test by having them beaten and thrown into jail. Each time the apostles were given such a test, they passed with flying colors as they were filled with joy.

Jesus is testing us with this day. How will we respond to this test? We need to know that we are never, ever tested beyond our strength. The Eucharist we share will help us pass any test that will come our way.