Immersed in Christ Reflections Wed May 31

WEDNESDAY, Easter week seven View Today's Readings The readings express the concern Jesus and Paul have for the protection of the flock after they are gone. In response, the Responsorial Psalm cites the last verses of yesterday’s Psalm, emphasizing God’s power, and inviting us again: “Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth” (Psalm 68). In Acts 20: 28-38 Paul warns the elders of the Church in Ephesus that “Some even from your own group will come distorting the truth.” To help them unmask these “savage wolves,” he reminds them that his own teaching was made credible by his lifestyle: “I coveted no one's silver or gold or clothing” and “worked with my own hands to support myself and my companions

Immersed in Christ Reflections Tue May 30

TUESDAY, Easter week seven View Today's Readings The Responsorial Psalm continues yesterday’s Psalm, emphasizing that God saves and provides for us. The response is the same: “Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth” (Psalm 68). In Acts 18: 20: 17-27 Paul gives an account of his ministry, knowing that he is on the road to death. He recalls: “I lived among you… serving the Lord with all humility… enduring the trials that came to me…” and “did not shrink from doing anything helpful, proclaiming the message… to both Jews and Greeks.” When he concludes, “I do not count my life of any value to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord,” he gives the key to

Immersed in Christ Reflections Mon May 29

MONDAY, Easter week seven View Today's Readings The Responsorial Psalm celebrates Christ’s victory over sin and death (and all the consequences of sin, the chief of which is death): “Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth” (Psalm 68). Acts 19: 1-8 makes clear the difference between the human gesture of repentance that John’s baptism was and the divine act of regeneration that sacramental Baptism is. The key to the difference is mystery. Both baptisms are human gestures, human expressions of “repentance,” of a “change of mind.” Both are human acts of commitment. And God inspires and blesses any human expression of response to him. But sacramental Baptism is a mystery of transformation — not jus

THE FEAST OF THE ASCENSION

(Thursday after the Sixth Sunday of Easter — but it also can replace the Seventh Sunday) “Up and Out” Questions to Ask Yourself (Feast of the Ascension, Year A) What does it mean to me that Jesus ascended into heaven? Does it have any influence on my life? On the decisions I make today? Ideas to Consider The Entrance Antiphon tells us to stop “looking up at the skies” because, just as Jesus left, in the same way he is going to return. The Opening Prayer has us ask that we might “follow him into the new creation,” and calls his ascension our joy, “our glory and our hope.” The Responsorial Psalm just calls for celebration: “God mounts his throne to shouts of joy; a blare of trumpets for the Lo

Immersed in Christ Reflections Sun May 28

THE SEVENTH SUNDAY OF EASTER (Year A) View Today's Readings Spirit and Flesh Questions to Ask Yourself In the Entrance Antiphon, not only do we say that our heart prompts us to “seek your face,” but we declare positively to God: “I seek it. Lord, do not hide from me.” Am I making both of these statements personally? Or am I just repeating them because they are “in the book”? How do I “seek God’s face?” Is the glory of Jesus “hidden” from me in the world I live in, or do I see it constantly? Where? How? Ideas to Consider In the Opening Prayer we affirm that Christ “lives with God in glory,” but that he also “promised to remain with us until the end of time.” Both statements are verified when

Immersed in Christ Reflections Sat May 27

SATURDAY, Easter week six View Today's Readings The Responsorial Psalm is the same as yesterday, with other verses: “God is king of all the earth” (Psalm 47). In Acts 18: 23-28 we see God’s power working outside the ordinary structures of the Church. A Jew from Alexandria named Apollos arrived at Ephesus. “He was an eloquent man, well-versed in the scriptures. He had been instructed in the Way of the Lord; and he spoke with burning enthusiasm and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus.” But he had been a disciple of John the Baptizer, not one of those who went around with Jesus, and “he knew only the baptism of John.” He was not really connected with the Christian community. But God h

Immersed in Christ Reflections Fri May 26

FRIDAY, Easter week six: The Responsorial Psalm reassures us that even when things seem to be going badly: “God is king of all the earth” (Psalm 47). Acts 18: 9-18 shows us the Christians being protected from persecution for a change! The Lord tells Paul not to be afraid: “No one will attack you or harm you” in Corinth. And he adds, “There are many of my people in this city.” Sometimes we are so conscious of those who oppose Christianity, or who are indifferent to religion, that we forget there are many people who are on our side — because they are on Christ’s side. And God will use them to help us, just as he uses us to help them. We can’t help wondering whether the Roman proconsul, Gallio,

Immersed in Christ Reflections Thur May 25

THURSDAY, Easter week six View Today's Readings The Responsorial Psalm tells us: “The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power” (Psalm 98). In the readings we see him doing it without dramatic “signs and wonders.” Acts 18: 1-8 shows Paul living as an ordinary working man, a tentmaker, in Corinth. And “every Sabbath, in the synagogue, he led discussions,” trying to convince both the Jews and the Greeks that Jesus was the Messiah. He persuaded some. But when the Jewish faction “opposed and reviled him, in protest he shook the dust from his clothes and said to them, ’Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.’” So he moved in with a Gentile n

Immersed in Christ Refections Wed May 24

WEDNESDAY, Easter week six View Today's Readings The Responsorial Psalm declares we should praise God both for what we see in creation and for what we experience by grace: “Heaven and earth are filled with your glory” (Psalm 148). In Acts 17:15 to 18:l Paul begins in Athens by arguing that “The God who made the world and everything in it… does not live in shrines made by human hands.” He argues that if we are his “offspring,” as Aratus, a poet from Cilicia (part of modern-day Turkey, where Tarsus, Paul’s birthplace was) wrote, then “we ought not to think of divinity as something like a statue of gold, or silver, or stone, a product of human genius and art.” Then he spoke of God calling all p

Immersed in Christ Reflections Tues May 23

TUESDAY, Easter week six View Today's Readings From a basis of experience the Responsorial Psalm declares a basis for hope: “Your right hand has saved me, O Lord” (Psalm 138). The earthquake in Acts 16: 22-34 that opened the prison doors was a minor revelation of God’s power. The conversion of the jailer was a major revelation. God reveals his power when he uses it to accomplish his own purpose, which is the conversion of the human race. In every age, people’s failure to believe in Christ or to continue as active members of the Church tempts us to discouragement and doubt. Sometimes the statistics make Christ appear to be a loser. That is when we have to look at a broader picture. In any par

Immersed in Christ Refections Mon May 22

MONDAY, Easter week six View Today's Readings The Responsorial Psalm tells us how God feels about us: “The Lord takes delight in his people” (Psalm 149). We need to accept and rejoice in this. In Acts 16: 11-15 a woman whom the missionaries had just met, Lydia, invites them to stay at her home: “If you are convinced that I believe in the Lord, come and stay at my home.” And the apostles did. This reminds us of Jesus’ promise: “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them” (John 14:23). This is a pretty clear affirmation of the Responsorial Psalm: “The Lord takes delight in his people.” But can you believe the Lord tak

Immersed in Christ Reflections Sun May 21

THE SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER View Today's Readings Experiencing the Power of the Spirit Questions to Ask Yourself What gives me the greatest joy in life right now? Does it ever cause me to say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!”? Ideas to Consider Everything in the liturgy is speaking to us of joy. The Entrance Antiphon begins: “Speak out with a voice of joy….” The Opening Prayer begins, “Ever-living God, help us to celebrate our joy….” And the Responsorial Psalm urges: “Let all the earth cry out to God with joy” (Psalm 66). And the reasons? Because of the awesome power God has used for us: because “the Lord has set his people free”; because of “the resurrection of the Lord”; because at the

Immersed in Christ Reflections Sat May 20

SATURDAY, Easter week five View Today's Readings Though both readings speak of opposition to the Gospel and persecution, the Responsorial verse tells us: “Let all the earth cry out to God with joy” (Psalm 100). The truth is that rejection of the Church can be a sign that we are truly united with Jesus, the “stone that the builders rejected,” who “has become the cornerstone” (1Peter 2:7). Anything that indicates we have “died with Christ” to the attitudes and values of this world is an assurance that we have also “risen to new life in him” (Entrance Antiphon). This is a cause to rejoice. In Acts 16: 1-10 we see Paul subjecting Timothy to the unnecessary pain of circumcision in order to make h

Immersed in Christ Reflections Fri May 19

FRIDAY, Easter week five View Today's Readings The Responsorial Psalm is the exclamation of one who rejoices in God’s saving love for all people: “I will give you thanks among the peoples, O Lord ” (Psalm 57). In Acts 15: 22-31 we see this saving love embodied in the Church’s response to the Gentile converts. The community disclaims those who “without any mandate from us have upset you with their teachings and disturbed your peace of mind.” The Apostles and presbyters confidently affirm, “It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities….” The spirit of the Church guided by the Spirit is the exact opposite of what Jesus condemned in the

Immersed in Christ Reflections Thur May 18

THURSDAY, Easter week five View Today's Readings The Responsorial Psalm directs us to focus our attention on what God is doing, and to let that guide our judgments about human behavior: “Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations” (Psalm 96). In particular, our interpretation of laws should be based on what we experience the Spirit doing in the Church. This is what the readings teach us. In Acts 15: 7-21 the “Apostles and presbyters” resolved the dissension between the missionaries and the Pharisee party in the Church by basing their decision on three things. First was the spiritual experience that Peter, Paul and the missionaries had of the Holy Spirit blessing their work among the G

Immersed in Christ Reflections Wed May 17

May 17, 2017 WEDNESDAY, Easter week five View Today's Readings The Responsorial Psalm tells us: “Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord” (Psalm 122). The readings give us a choice of what we will rejoice in. The basic choice appears in Acts 15: 1-6. We can rejoice that the rules are being kept and that no development of doctrine (good or bad) is taking place. This was the concern of those who “had come down from Judea” to Antioch and were instructing the new Gentile converts whom Paul and Barnabas had brought into the Church, “Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice, you cannot be saved.” They were not rejoicing in “all that God had done” through Paul and Barnabas,

Immersed in Christ Reflections Tue May 16

May 16, 2017 TUESDAY, Easter week five View Today's Readings The Responsorial Psalm alerts us to the importance of celebrating the action of the risen Christ in the Church: “Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom” (Psalm 145). In Acts 14: 19-28 we see a pattern that both reveals the presence and assures the permanence of the risen Jesus in the Church. Paul recovers from his stoning after being left for dead, and “the next day went on with Barnabas to Derbe,” where they “proclaimed the good news….” This is a fulfillment of Jesus’ promise in today’s Gospel: “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid…. I am going away, and I will come back to you.” In the “ris

Immersed in Christ Reflections Mon May 15

May 15, 2017 MONDAY, Easter week five View Today's Readings The Responsorial Psalm teaches us to experience God by depending on God: “Not to us, O LORD, but to your name give glory” (Psalm 115). In Acts 14: 5-18 we see again the pattern of the “kerygmatic” or “herald-ic” preaching of the Good News: First, pre-evangelization: a miracle raises a question to which the only true explanation is Christ’s action in his risen body (14: 8-14): “Not to us, O LORD, but to your name give glory.” Then comes evangelization, the preaching of the Gospel in answer to the question (14: 15-18, with Paul’s presumed development). But unlike previous occasions (see Acts 2: 41-47; 4:4, 23-36), there is no record o

Immersed in Christ Reflections Sun May 14

May 14, 2017 THE FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER We are Called to Bear Fruit through Living Union with God Questions to Ask Yourself The Entrance Antiphon invites us to: “Sing to the Lord” because he has “done marvelous deeds” and “revealed his saving power” (Psalm 97). What “marvelous deeds” of God have I experienced? How do I see his “saving power” revealed in the Church and in the world today? Ideas to Consider In the Opening Prayer we profess our belief that the Father is “looking upon us with love” and giving us “true freedom.” This is not just freedom from enslaving attitudes and values, but freedom to make personal choices that “bring us to the inheritance” God has promised. Our free, personal

Immersed in Christ Reflections Sat May 13

May 13, 2017 SATURDAY, Easter week four View Today's Readings The Responsorial Psalm promises: “All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God” (Psalm 98). The readings take on special meaning if we understand “ends of the earth” to mean, not just countries, but in every country all areas of life and activity: family and social life, business and politics. When and how will the “saving power of God” be seen in all of these areas? And when it is, will not the prophetic words of the Church’s prayer be realized: “Send forth your Spirit and our hearts will be regenerated. And you will renew the face of the earth!” In Acts 13: 44-52 we see God using the very opposition of his enemies

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