Father David's Reflection for Friday of the Sixth Week of Easter

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; that in Corinth, "No one will at- tack you or harm you" 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, was one of those

Father David's Reflection for Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter

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 named Titus, "and many of the Corinthians who hea

Father David's Reflection for Wednesday of the Sixth Week of Easter

The Responsorial Psalm declares we should praise God both for what we experience by grace and see around us in the world: "Heaven and earth are filled with your glory" (Psalm 148). In Acts 17:15 to 18:1, 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 people to "reform their lives." As long as he was

Father David's Reflection for Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Easter

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 particular time or place the faith can flourish o

Father David's Reflection for Monday of the Sixth Week of Easter

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 takes delight in you personally? That it fills h

Father David's Reflection for the Sixth Week of Easter

Joy and Peace in the Spirit of Christ Inventory What gives me my greatest joy and security in life right now? Are both of these rooted in my experience of Jesus Christ alive and dealing with me? Input The Entrance Antiphon calls us to "speak out with a voice of joy" because "the Lord has set his people free!" Basically, Jesus has set us free from: 1. the guilt of sin; 2. the consequences of sin: (death); 3. slavery to sin (through enslavement to our culture); 4. the slavery of the law (legalism). By freeing us from these, he has also removed the greatest threats (and false supports) to our security. The Opening Prayer gives the key to our joy and to all of these freedoms. "Ever-living God, h

Father David's Reflection for Saturday of the Fifth Week of Easter

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 people's 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 his ministry acceptable to Jews who were

Father David's Reflection for Friday of the Fifth Week of Easter

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 man- date 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 Pharisees and "scribes," or specialists in the

Father David's Reflection for Thursday of the Fifth Week of Easter

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 Gentiles. Peter reminded them that God chose "that

Father David's Reflection for Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Easter

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 in "all that God has done" or just in the fact that the rules are being kept. 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, and "how he had opened a door of faith for the Gentiles" (Acts 14:27). All they ca

Father David's Reflection for Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Easter

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 "risen" Paul Jesus continues to work. In Derbe and other cities P

Father David's Reflection for Monday of the Fifth Week of Easter

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 "heraldic" 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 of the third phase, Eucharist: the celebration of the Good New

Father David's Reflection for Sunday of the Fifth Week of Easter

We are Called to Bear Fruit Through Living Union with Jesus Inventory The Entrance Antiphon invites us to: "Sing to the Lord" because he has "revealed to the nations his saving power" (Psalm 97). What "marvelous deeds" of God do we celebrate together? Do we make them a communal experience? Input In the (alternative) Opening Prayer we ask God to "give us voice to sing your praise." But we cannot celebrate together what we have not experienced together. If God has "filled all ages with the words of a new song", it is because he has "revealed to the nations" his saving power. If we are going to celebrate together as Church, we need to share with each other what God has done - and is doing still

Father David's Reflection for Saturday of the Fourth Week of Easter

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 to accomplish his purposes. This is a pattern in the Gospels,

Father David's Reflection for Friday of the Fourth Week of Easter

The Responsorial Psalm proclaims that Jesus is a Shepherd who will always be with us, because he is divine: "You are my Son; this day I have begotten you" (Psalm 2). The proof is that he rose alive from death. Acts 13: 26-33 tells us "the inhabitants of Jerusalem and their leaders failed to recognize" Jesus. They were not his sheep; if they had been, they would have known his voice. Foolishly, they thought they could get rid of him by having him put to death. But by this they simply "accomplished all that was written about him." And then "God raised him from the dead." He returned! Jesus' resurrection is the central fact to which the Church bears witness. Without the Gospel nothing can expla

Father David's Reflection for Thursday of the Fourth Week of Easter

The Responsorial Psalm invites us, for the third day in a row, to praise God. On Tuesday and Wednesday it was for the breadth of the extension of the Good News to "all nations" and for the depth to which direct access to God's word invites us. Today it is for the length of God's fidelity in time and for the height from which the message comes to us: "Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord" (Psalm 89). In Acts 13: 13-25 Paul gives the history of God's guidance of his people through messengers, culminating in the "Savior, Jesus." But Jesus was on a uniquely higher level; no one could compare with him. Even John the Baptizer said, "I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet." Thi

Father David's Reflection for Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Easter

The Responsorial Psalm celebrates the value of God's way and the desire to teach it to everyone: "May your way be known among all nations.." This inspires the Response: "O God, let all the nations praise you" (Psalm 67). "May the nations be glad and exult because you rule. and guide" all people as universal shepherd. Acts 12:24 to 13:5 describes the missionary spirit inspired in the Church by the Holy Spirit. "The word of God continued to spread and grow" because the whole community - not just those in authority - were filled with zeal. In addition to the Apostles and "elders" (from which our word "presbyter" or "priest" comes), "there were in the Church at Antioch prophets and teachers"- ju

Father David's Reflection for Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Easter

Psalm 87 is a hymn proclaiming Jerusalem the true birthplace even of Jews who were born elsewhere. In the present context it proclaims the Church the true home of all Christians, whether Jew or Gentile in origin. The Responsorial verse is from Psalm 117 (and see Romans 15:11): "All you nations, praise the Lord." Acts 11: 19-26 affirms the action of the Holy Spirit in those who brought the Gospel to the Gentiles in Antioch. It was in Antioch that "the disciples were first called 'Christians,'" because the number of Gentiles made the community stand out clearly in distinction from Judaism. However, the admission into the Church of Gentiles who were not required to follow Jewish customs sparked

Father David's Reflection for Monday of the Fourth Week of Easter

The Responsorial Psalm affirms the universal hunger of the human heart for God: "Athirst is my soul for the living God" (Psalm 42). And in the readings we see Jesus, the good shepherd, eager to satisfy that hunger in every person on earth. In Acts 11: 1-18 Peter is explaining to some of the "circumcised believers" (the "judaizers": Jewish Christians who clung to the Jewish laws and customs they had grown up with and wanted to impose them on everyone who accepted Christ) why he broke the legal barrier between Jews and Gentiles by entering the house of Gentiles and eating with them. He explained it as an inspiration of the Holy Spirit - "The Spirit told me to accompany them without discrimina

Father David's Reflection for Fourth Sunday of Easter

The Shepherd Who Leads To Life Inventory How did I receive the gift of faith? Who taught me? Do I believe because of my parents and teachers, or because I have heard "the call of the shepherd," Jesus himself? When and how did I become conscious of his voice? Input The Entrance Antiphon calls us to recognize that what we experience in the world is the goodness of God himself: "The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord." It is God's power, goodness and beauty that are actually present and expressed in everything he made and sustains in existence. When we say, "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made," - we mean they are still being made and given to us by the presence and action of G

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