Immersed in Christ: May 18, 2020
Monday, Week Six of Easter
The Responsorial (Psalm 149) tells us, “The Lord takes delight in his people.” Surprised? Many of us may be inclined to think he just puts up with us!
We could wonder what to meditate on in Acts 16: 11-15. All it seems to say is that Paul and his companions went to Philippi in Macedonia, part of modern Greece, to evangelize. They went down to the river to pray (and probably have a picnic), struck up a conversation with some women gathered there, and made an impression on Lydia, who said “If you are convinced that I believe in the Lord, come and stay at my home.” And they did. This was the first time Paul preached in Europe.
What this passage does is show the apostles (and God?) in what we might call a relaxed moment. Lydia liked the apostles; they liked her; they went to her house. What attracted them? The fact she believed. What makes God “take delight” in us? Many things. But a major one is just the fact we believe. Jesus told his disciples, “the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.” And before that: “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.” 1
A good reason to express our faith and love is so we ourselves will be “convinced that we believe in the Lord.” Believe personally. Consciously. Deliberately. Firmly. And love him.
It really helps if we do this consciously at Mass, meaning all the words we say. In the Presentation of Gifts we should see a connection between our giving a host to Christ as an expression of our love and him giving a host to us in Communion as an expression of his.
In John 15:26 to 16:4 Jesus says the way we know we believe, ultimately, is because “the Spirit of truth... whom I myself will send from the Father, will bear witness on my behalf.” We know the Father because the Spirit is crying, “Abba! Father!” in our hearts. And it is only by the same Spirit that we can say and know that “Jesus is Lord.” 2
The Spirit bears witness to us that we know the Father and the Son by moving us to act on what we believe. Jesus said, “You must bear witness as well.” We can’t be sure our faith is real until we see its effects. Faith is like pregnancy: no one knows it is there until it shows.
Sometimes we recognize the Spirit in us by contrast. When others make fun of our ideals or think we are crazy because of what we give priority to, we need to ask, “Why do I see this if they don’t?” Are we any smarter? Do we even necessarily feel we are better persons than they are? But we know we know. And if we know, how do we explain that, if not by the Spirit given to us?
When we realize that what we know and desire is God’s free gift to us, then not only does “the Lord takes delight in his people;” we take delight in him.
Initiative: Acknowledge the Spirit. Tell God you believe, you hope, you love.
1 John 16:27 2 Romans 8:15-16; Galatians 4:6; 1Corinthians 12:3.