• Father David M. Knight

April 21, 2017

FRIDAY, first week of Easter

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Our life has to be built on interacting with Jesus, consulting his mind, responding to his inspirations, relying on his strength. The Christian life is a life of constant interaction with the living person of Jesus Christ, who is with us and within us.

Acts 4: 1-12 contrasts Israel’s “leaders, elders and scribes… and all who were of the high-priestly caste” with the disciples of Jesus. For the authorities and those publicly recognized as leaders in Israel, Jesus was “the stone rejected by the builders.” But for those who believe, he “has become the cornerstone” — of the Church, of life, and of that “life to the full” which is salvation. “There is no salvation through anyone [or anything] else.” If we want to “have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10), we have to deal with Jesus.

What other options are there?

The most common wrong choice — for religious people, that is — is to build their lives and base their security on keeping God’s law. But the people who do this do not build their lives on God’s deepest, most fundamental and all-embracing laws — such as “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5); “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (changed by Jesus to “Love one another just as I have loved you” John 13:34); and : “The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself” (Leviticus 19: 18, 34). These are all general principles that require us to think instead of spelling out what we should do. Rather, they focus on concrete rules, usually of minor (although sometimes real) importance, and they obey them rigidly, refusing the responsibility of personal interpretation and the challenge of prophetic application to particular situations. This is called legalism. It was the religion of the Pharisees and the “chief priests,” who rejected Jesus because he was summoning them to interact with the living God. The prophets are those who try to apply rules and principles to concrete circumstances according to the mind of God — by interacting with the Spirit of Jesus within them.

John 21: 1-14 gives us a guideline for discerning whether an inspiration is from God. The disciples knew “it was the Lord” whose voice they were following when they saw the fruit his instructions bore. We should ask if the choices we make are life-giving.

Take Initiative: Be a prophet. Focus on the living Jesus, not on the dead letter of law.

  • Father David M. Knight

April 20, 2017

THURSDAY, first week of Easter

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The Responsorial Psalm is our response of faith to Jesus’ death and resurrection: “O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8).

The theme of Acts 3: 11-26 is that through the resurrection of Jesus — as made manifest in the Church, his risen body on earth today — God “has glorified his servant Jesus” and made clear to all that he “has thus brought to fulfillment what he had announced beforehand through the mouth of all the prophets.”

God’s promise to Abraham was, “In your offspring all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” This was not the blessing of prosperity through political justice and peace. Jesus did not come to achieve political reforms. He came, not to change the environment, but to change people who would change the environment. He came to establish peace and justice on earth, but indirectly, by first establishing the peace of justice and love in human hearts. Then in and through those humans, his own risen body, he would work “until the time of universal restoration that God announced long ago through his holy prophets.” The blessing Jesus gives is conversion and transformation of heart: “God raised up his servant and sent him to bless you by turning each of you from your evil ways.” This is how God chooses to “renew the face of the earth.”

What God promised through the prophets of old he will bring about through the prophets of today — through those who apply his teaching and principles creatively to current reality. The true mission of the prophets is not to predict the future but to create it by living it out in preview. The lifestyle and behavior of the prophetic Church should make the whole world cry out in admiration: “O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!

Luke 24: 35 to 48 makes the point that the risen Jesus is only revealed in flesh and blood. Jesus said, “Look at my hands and my feet…. Touch me and see that a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” And he “ate in front of them.”

The role of the Church is to give the risen Jesus visible “flesh and bones.” We who live and work and eat and drink with others must do it in such a way that we reveal the presence of the living Jesus in us. Our witness is in what we embody. If in our actions we “give flesh” to the words of Jesus, then indeed we are “witnesses of these things” and the world will cry out, “O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!”

Take Initiative: Be a prophet. Embody the Good News in your lifestyle: in your words, actions and choices; in what you buy, use and produce; in your profits and losses.

  • Father David M. Knight

April 19 2017

WEDNESDAY, Easter, week one

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The Responsorial Psalm tells us the path to joy: “Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord” (Psalm 105). Those who seek will find; and what they find will give them the fullness of joy.

In Acts 3: 1-10 the lame man found something he did not seek. Instead of money he received healing. And his cure brought others to find something they were not seeking.

There is a three-step pattern in the Apostles’ preaching of the Good News. First, there is an event that shocks— like the cure of the lame man or the enthusiasm of Pentecost. The event is something that raises a question (Acts 2: 1-13; 3: 9-11; 4:7). This is called pre-evangeliza­tion. It prepares people to listen. It makes those who were not seeking want to hear an answer.

This is the work of the prophets. It doesn’t take miracles; the lifestyle of Christians should be different enough, shocking enough, to raise questions that cannot be answered without the preaching of the Gospel. This is what prepares people to listen to the Good News.

In Luke 24: 13-35 the event that shocks is the apparent defeat of Jesus. In answer to the disciples’ puzzlement Jesus passes to the second step — evangelization — which is the proclamation and explanation of the Good News in answer to the question raised. “He interpreted to them the things about himself in all the Scriptures.” As he did so, their “hearts were burning within them” (and see Acts 2: 14-40; 3: 12-26; 4:8-12).

The process is not complete until it is celebrated, which is normally in Eucharist. “He was made known to them in the breaking of the bread” (and Acts 2: 41-42; 4: 21 to 5:32) It is not enough just to hear and receive the message of the Gospel; we have to respond to it. We have to express our faith and our joy in celebration. “Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord.” When we find what we seek we have to celebrate it. Otherwise we will not really assimilate and appreciate it. In this we pass from prophets to priests.

But the starting point is seeking. And what makes people seek is pre-evangelization: something that raises a question that can only be answered by the news of Jesus Christ. The function of the prophets is to raise that question by the way they live and act. The prophets challenge, but their challenge leads to joy. “Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord.”

Take Initiative: Be a prophet. Live in a way that cannot be explained except through the principles and values taught (and lived out) by Jesus Christ.