13th Sunday in Ordinary Time – July 1, 2018

13B18. Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24. “God did not make death nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.” God did not create death but only life. Death entered the world through the sinful disobedience of Adam and Eve (Romans 5:12). “God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him.” He made us to be his sons and daughters in his image and likeness (Genesis 1:27), living forever happily with him.

Mark 5:21-43. Jairus pleads, “My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live.” Despite the report that the daughter has died, Jesus says, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” Jesus goes and tells her to arise and she does. Jesus gives her physical health as a sign to all that he wishes to give us the health that is eternal, called holiness. He is the God that robs death of its power to be the eternal termination of life. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:52b: “For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” Paul continues in 1 Corinthians 15:54c-55: “Death is swallowed up in victory. Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?”

The woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years says to herself, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” “She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, ‘Who has touched my clothes?’” Although he was jostled about in the crowd and many people were rubbing up against him, none had done so with the faith to be cured at that moment. Her faith had released the curative energy from Jesus without Jesus even knowing who had done it. The power of faith is that we hand ourselves to the power of God. The God who created us to be loved by him and to live in his love forever is the God who will give only good things to those who wish to live in his love. In Matthew 7:11 Jesus says, “If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.”

2 Corinthians 5:21-43. Apparently, expecting Jesus to return soon after his ascension into heaven to end the world and take all who believed in him to heaven, the Christians in Jerusalem sold all they had, shared the proceeds with one another and waited for the Second Coming of the Lord. When the Lord did not come, they were living in abysmal poverty. In this Sundays’ second reading, Paul makes an appeal to the Corinthians to support the Christians in Jerusalem. Basically Paul is saying be generous as Jesus was generous, giving his life for us. You who have much should give to those who have nothing so that both of you should have something. This message blends in with the other two readings in that God is the generous giver who gives good things to those in need, even health to the sick and life to the dead. Live in the goodness of God!

Feast of Nativity of John the Baptist – June 24, 2018

NativJB18B. Jeremiah 1:4-10; Isaiah 49:1-6.

In both of these readings I understand that in each one the prophets have been inspired to write of themselves. Jeremiah in writing, “Before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you,” believes that God is speaking this to him. Again Isaiah in writing, “For now the Lord has spoken who formed me as his servant from the womb, that Jacob may be brought back to him and Israel gathered to him,” is referring to God’s calling him to be a prophet to Israel and then to all the world. These readings are then seen in an extended sense to refer to John the Baptist as one who prepares the people to receive to receive the Messiah and yet further these readings can be seen to refer to Jesus, God making himself a man among men, who is to suffer in bringing the People to God the Father.

Luke 1:5-17. Luke 1:57-66, 80. The angel, who is God’s messenger, announces the birth to Elizabeth who has never had a child and is now beyond the age to conceive, and gives him the name John. “He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb, and will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God” “to prepare a people fit for the Lord.” The birth of John the Baptist is a unique historical and spiritual event because he is to proclaim the coming of the Messiah. The miraculous cure of Zechariah made clear that this child was destined by God to accomplish his mission as were the prophets of old.

1 Peter 1:8-12. Peter wrote that the prophets prophesied about the grace that was to be given for the salvation of souls. That salvation has been announced “by those who preached the Good News” “through the Holy Spirit sent from heaven.”
Acts of the Apostles 13:22-26. From David’s descendants God sent “to Israel a savior, Jesus.” “John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.” John said of himself in John 2:23, “I am ‘the voice of one crying out in the desert, “Make straight the way of the Lord.”’ as Isaiah the prophet said.”

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time – June 17, 2018

11B18. Ezekiel 17:22-24. “Thus says the Lord God: I, too, will take from the crest of the cedar,” “a tender shoot, and plant it” “on the mountain heights of Israel” and it shall “become a majestic cedar.” After the Babylonians had enslaved the Israelites and exterminated the ruling family in Jerusalem, Ezekiel is saying that God will reestablish the Davidic line of rulers and his kingdom in Israel again. Referring to Israel God says he will “lift high the lowly tree” “and make the withered tree bloom.” As Christians, we see this as foretelling of Jesus founding the kingdom of God on earth.

Mark 4:26-34. Using parables, Jesus hopes to give the crowds some idea of how it is with spiritual kingdom of God that he seeks to create. The man who scatters the seed is perhaps the good follower of Christ whom the Spirit uses to bring the word of God to others. The one who makes the seed sprout, grow and become fruitful is the Holy Spirit himself. The harvest is the gathering into heaven of the souls who have cooperated with the work of the Holy Spirit in them and grown day by day in the faith. In the next parable Jesus emphasizes the smallness of the mustard seed, perhaps to say that, with just a little willingness in one’s heart, God can make a wonderful saint out of anyone. Mark writes: “Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.” Learning requires readiness and preparation. What we have learned in the past enables to add or build on to achieve even more learning as one grade in school builds on the year’s previous learning. Learning is not only with the head but also with the heart. Past experiences and choices help us to develop yet further our character and emotional commitment. Jesus explains the parables in private to his own disciples because, having been with Jesus far more than the crowds, they know more and are more committed to Jesus. Jesus builds on our readiness and dedication to grow spiritually.

2 Corinthians 5:6-10. Paul writes: “We are always courageous; although we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yet we are courageous, and we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord.” To get a better understanding of these lines it helps to get a Bible and to read the verses that precede the ones we have above. In this life while we truly do have the Lord because of our God-given faith; yet we will have God far more when we can actually see him in heaven. We have the first installment on our home in heaven because God has given us the Holy Spirit who helps us to develop further as saints, who are the only people God allows to see him in heaven. We need to have courage each day because life in this world is a struggle against the temptations from the devil and the world itself. Life is this world was not easy for Jesus and likewise is not easy for us.

Paul continues: “Therefore, we aspire to please him, whether we are at home or away. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil.” In my own mind we should love to please him because we enjoy his loving us so much. Receiving recompense naturally flows from being loyal and faithful. Family is family just for the joy of being loved and loving others because we are so filled with love that we cannot do anything else but love. With Christ living in us and we living in Christ, we are already living the heavenly life to the degree that life in this world will allow us. Jesus said in John 15:4a: “Remain in me, as I remain in you.”

10th Sunday in Ordinary Time – June 10, 2018

10A18. Genesis 3:9-15. Disobeying God’s command, Adam and Eve had been taken in by the ruse or scheme of the devil. God recognized that they had lost their innocence, because they had eaten of the fruit of the tree of good and evil, when Adam said, “I heard that you were in the garden; but I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid myself.” The innocence of infants and little children knows no fear or threat of evil and so nakedness poses no problem for them. Feeling the vulnerability of nakedness shows that we recognize that we can be attacked and hurt by what is evil. Being without clothes to protect us from our vulnerability is like not having armor to shield us from attack. The serpent is treated here as an evil animal but later interpretation will see him as the devil in disguise. The offspring of the woman that will strike at the devil’s head, for us as Christians, is seen to be Jesus who being human himself as well as divine, is the champion for all of humanity in our struggle against evil. The devil will use every lowly device to strike at Jesus, which, to my understanding, is to say that the serpent or devil will be striking at his heal.

Mark 3:20-32. “Jesus came home with his disciples.” I am imaging that he returned to his own hometown of Nazareth. The gospel reading for this Sunday at one point speaks of his ‘relatives’ and then at another, of his ‘mother and brothers’ and then yet at another point, of Jesus’ ‘brother and sister and mother’. I understand these are all a reference to Jesus’ relatives or extended family that lived in Nazareth. They were understandably concerned that Jesus and his disciples were so deeply involved and successful in curing people in his ministry that they had hardly time to eat. I remember a mother having hardly any time to care for her own needs but somehow managed to feed herself between bites of food for her own daughter. I imagine that that is what Jesus and his disciples did. His family were important to him as blood relatives but infinitely more important to Jesus were those who were seeking to be spiritually related to God, those who would become the family of God in heaven by treating God as the God of their lives on earth. “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” What will lift us up to heaven is obedience to God our Father’s will; whereas, the downfall of Adam and Eve was their disobedience.

The section of this Gospel that talks about Beelzebub and Satan should be read as section separate from the first and last parts that talk about Jesus’ extended family (Mark 3:20-21, 31-35). The scribes, those who studied the Law and interpreted it, accused Jesus of working as an agent of Satan, who gave Jesus the power to order demons out of people. First, Jesus says it makes no sense for Satan to drive out Satan, thus defeating his own diabolic work in life. Secondly, Jesus says that, since he drives out demons by the power of the Holy Spirit, in effect the scribes are committing the unforgiveable sin of saying that the Holy Spirit was doing the devil’s work in driving out demons. In Jesus’ parable Satan is the strong man that the Holy Spirit ties up and from whom the Spirit takes the away the people that the demons had possessed. The people that the devil had possessed were the property that the Spirit plundered from the strong man’s, i. e., the devil’s, house. Here Jesus uses the imagery of war: “To the victor go the spoils.” The victory is God’s; the devil is defeated.

2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1. A “spirit of faith” is engendered by the grace that God gives those who wish to believe in Jesus. Paul writes, “We are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” Physical things, including our bodies, must deteriorate but we put our faith in what is spiritual, that remains for all eternity. Paul continues, “We look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal. For we know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven.” As long as we are loyal to the Lord, the Lord is loyal to us. The victory that belongs to God also belongs to us who choose to belong to God. In Ephesians 3:16b-18a, 19 Paul writes, May you “be strengthened with power, through his Spirit in the inner self, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ June 3, 2018

CorpChristiB18. Exodus 24:3-8. “When Moses came to the people and related all the words and ordinances of the Lord, they all answered with one voice, ‘We will do everything that the Lord has told us.’” To accept God as one’s God we must submit to his authority over us. This is not a horizontal relationship between equals but a vertical relationship between those who have been created and their Creator, between those who live in a state of absolute dependence and the One on whom we can utterly depend upon forever. A second time Moses reads to them the covenant and a second time they accept but this time he sprinkles half of the blood of the sacrifice on them and the other half on the altar to symbolize that God and the people are bound together by the covenant. Blood which symbolizes life or the life-giving force is used to indicate that the covenant is now operative as the life giving relationship between God and his people.

Mark 14:12-16, 22-26. At their celebration of the Passover, the last meal that Jesus was to eat before dying on the Cross, what we traditionally call ‘The Last Supper,’ Jesus establishes the new covenant that then super cedes that of Old Testament. Of the bread he shares with the Apostles, Jesus says, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he shared the cup with them saying, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.” This all precedes his actually offering up himself; body and blood on the cross as a once and for all time sacrifice to God the Father to atone for our sins. At Mass we re-present that same sacrifice on the cross, since he is not dying over and over again.

Hebrews 9:11-15. The offering up of the blood of goats and bulls was repeated endlessly in the old covenant to sanctify those who were defiled in any way. In the new covenant the blood of Christ once offered up, only needs to be re-presented to God the Father to cleanse us from our sins, since the one offering on the cross has infinite, endless value before God. Jesus is the “mediator of the new covenant,” who presents his sacrifice to his Father for our benefit. In Hebrews 9:24-26 we read, “For Christ did not enter into a sanctuary made by hands, a copy of the true one, but heaven itself, that he might now appear before God on our behalf. Not that he might offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters each year into the sanctuary with blood that is not his own; if that were so, he would have had to suffer repeatedly from the foundation of the world. But now once for all he has appeared at the end of the ages to take away sin by his sacrifice.” In Romans 5:8- 9, Paul writes, “But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. How much more then, since we are now justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath.” Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Our reception of Jesus in the Eucharist enables us to go to the Father through the Son who is the only way to the Father, in other words, the only way to heaven.

Trinity Reflection May 27, 2018

TrinityB18. Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40.

Moses explains to the people how wondrous is their God, caring for them and looking after them like no other god. “This is why you must now know, and fix in your heart, that the Lord is God in the heavens above and on earth below, and that there is no other.” He deserves your obedience to him and will reward you greatly, if you act as a people who belong to him.

Matthew 28:16-20. “They worshiped (him) but they doubted.” The doubt, I believe, was that they were unsure of what was to follow, after Jesus was to leave them, and that made them uneasy. Jesus said, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” I believe that Jesus, in announcing to them that he has received all power was saying that he is God and that what he was commanding them to do comes from him out of his authority as God and as the almighty God in his infinite power he will be with them without fail until the end of time in all the church’s work of making “disciples of all nations.” Jesus commands that they are to baptize in the name of the Triune God. The clarity of this statement makes it clear that God sees himself as three Persons but one God. In saying this, Jesus reveals, beyond what is given in the Old Testament, that the One God is, not only love, but a relationship of infinite love so giving of each Person to the other that the three become one. The three persons of the Trinity are so infinitely given to each other in love that they are not three gods but one God. This mystery can be so disturbing for many but we, who are human, finite or so limited in comparison to what is infinite, divine or without human limitations, are incapable of fully grasping, taking ahold of, comprehending or understanding the limitless, almighty God. It would be like trying to fit the whole ocean into a tiny cup.

Psalm 33:4-5, 6, 9, 18-19 20, 22. “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made.” “He commanded, and it stood forth.” He is so almighty that with just a word the whole universe, the whole natural world is created by him. Nevertheless he deeply cares for us who are so insignificant. He “is our help and our shield. May your kindness, O Lord, be upon us who have put our hope in you.”

Romans 8:14-17. “The spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.” The Holy Spirit joins himself to our spirit to proclaim that, as God is love and bound together as one by love, we are taken into God’s family because we are loved. All of the saints in heaven are God’s family able to call God, our Father, and one another, our brothers and sisters. In following Jesus to heaven, we must follow him, accepting our crosses of submission to his Will and dying to our own will, as we go with him to the resurrection. We are heirs to both his death and resurrection.

Pentacost Reflection May 20, 2018

PentB18. Acts of the Apostles 2:1-11. Jesus, the Love, the Center, the Light of their lives had ascended, gone away into the heavens. They were now without him. Jesus had promised the Spirit and so they waited. When the Holy Spirit came, he came in great power. “Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them.” The Holy Spirit came to set their tongues on fire so that their words might instill a burning desire in their hearers to be devoted to Jesus as their life-giving God. The Apostles spoke to a crowd of vastly different languages, yet they heard “them speaking in (their) own tongues of the mighty acts of God.” The Spirit works today, ordinarily not with such a spectacular show, nonetheless with great, quiet power for those whose hearts welcome him.

John 20:19-23 & 15:26-27; 16:12-15. John’s gospel has Pentecost and Easter occurring on the same day. For John, Jesus comes on Easter to give the Holy Spirit to the Apostles so that they may go and bring to holiness those who wished to be saved from their sins. In the second Gospel option, Jesus says, “the Spirit of truth” “will guide you to all truth,” which he receives from the Son who had received it from the Father, the Trinity working together as the one God. In John’s gospel the word ‘truth’ is used 52 times, and yet even more times in the epistles. The ‘truth’ means that we belong to what is genuinely real for all eternity, not what people would like to call the truth but what is only invented to make them feel good, or what they would like to think, or what is in fashion today. That latter so called ‘truth’ are the lies which the devil uses to deliver us to his realm of darkness, away from the light that is God himself. The truth that the Spirit brings to us is a continuation of what Jesus had brought to his followers when he was on earth. God, the Holy Spirit uses the bible, the Church’s magisterium or teaching authority and all forms of teaching as instruments to guide us to all truth.

1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13. “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” All good that is truly good comes radically from God, the only true source of genuine goodness. All that we do, think or say that is good comes from the work of God. In Matthew 16: 16-17, “Simon Peter said in reply, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus said to him in reply, ‘Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.’” In other words, Peter did not figure this all out on his own but God moved him to recognize the truth of who Jesus was. If the preacher preaches in such a way that we are moved to be a holier people, that is the work of the Spirit in the preacher and in those who hear his words and not something they do on their own apart from God. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. It is the work of the Spirit to build up the church by giving different gifts to different individuals. It is the “same God who produces all of them in everyone.” “We are all given to drink of one Spirit.”

Galatians 5:16-25. “Live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh.” Here Paul is not writing about the necessary, nutritional demands our bodies make on us to live from day to day but on the illicit cravings that our bodily nature might tempt us to. The fruit of the Spirit are the good actions that God calls us to. “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit.”

Ascension Reflection May 13, 2018

AscenB18. Acts of the Apostles 1:1-11. “He presented himself alive to them by many proofs after he had suffered, appearing to them during forty days.” Jesus had truly died and truly arose from the dead. He proved that to his apostles in a physical way, visible to their eyes and palpable to their touch. However, the time of Jesus’ physical presence was shortly to end and Christianity was to enter into a spiritual phase that demands a faith in what we cannot see or touch but which is fostered by the divine work of the Holy Spirit. Through his powerful presence in the timid, previously fearful Apostles, Jesus’ salvific work was brought “to the ends of the earth.” Jesus ascended into heaven but some day will return just as he ascended. That will be Jesus, the divine King, at the end of the universe. When it will happen belongs to God, and God alone, to know.

Mark 16:15-20. “Jesus proclaimed to them, ‘go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” He “was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God. But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.” Through the Spirit, Jesus worked with his disciples, at first in a very visible, physical way but later, in a more spiritual and hidden way, demanding more faith on the part of the believer.

Ephesians 1:17-23. At first Paul calls upon us through the power of God to come to know what hope we have been given from the riches of his glory and infinite power for us who put our faith in him. Secondly, Paul says that we have put our faith in the Christ who is at the right hand of God the Father far above everything or anyone. “And he put all things beneath his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body.” As we receive the body and blood of Christ in communion, we, as church, become his body with him as our head. We have been given a deep intimacy of union with him, so much is he a part of us and we, a part of him. Jesus, filled with all goodness and love, fills us with all that is himself. What eternal joy we have!

Ephesians 4:1-13. The call or vocation that Christ has given us is to live in heaven one day. We need to start living now as though we were already in heaven, “bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of spirit through the bond of peace.” Through the Spirit he is equipping us for the work of the ministry by proclaiming the gospel to all in order to build up the church, which is the body of Christ. We are all called to be one, united in Christ. The depths of that union enable us to grow and develop as God’s holy ones, “to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ.”

Easter Reflection May 6, 2018

East6B18. Acts of the Apostles 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48. The Acts of the Apostles 15:1 states: Some who had come down from Judea were instructing the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice, you cannot be saved.” Today’s first reading helps to set the stage for debate that was to rage later in beginnings of Christianity. Was what Christ was establishing a new form or sect of Judaism or an entirely different religion that was rooted in Judaism? It is the latter. “Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him (Jesus),” Peter says. The Holy Spirit poured out himself on Jew and Gentile alike without any discrimination.

John 15:9-17 & 17:11b-19. (Since in the Wilmington Diocese we do the Mass for the Ascension on the second Sunday from now, thus leaving the readings of the Seventh Sunday without any coverage, I would like to bring the second and third readings from the Seventh Sunday into this reflection so that they get some attention. In John 15:9, “Jesus said to his disciples: ‘As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love.” In other words, remain in and live in the divine love that I pour into you. We have always heard, “Love with all your heart, with all your mind and all your soul,” as if we ourselves create the love from within ourselves from our own resources that enables us to respond positively to this command. I believe that it is not our love with which we love but rather the love that God is always giving us that is the love that we bring to the commandments of love. In other words, I understand that on our own, apart from God, we cannot truly love. In John 15:5b, Jesus says, “Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” It is only that we have received love from God that we have love to bring to anyone. In our second reading for this Sixth Sunday of Easter, we read, “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.” God is always at the center of our bearing any fruit. In John 15:16a, Jesus says, “ It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.” What we must ask for is true love in the midst of a world that all too often wants to love itself and a life in the flesh that only wants to love pleasures for the flesh. It is now as Jesus said in John 13:34, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another,” and no longer, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Jesus who offered himself up as a sacrifice for our sins to open the gates of heaven to us showed us that love is what we do for the true unadulterated benefit of others and not for what we can get out of it.

In John 17:6, Jesus says, “I revealed your name (you) to those whom you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word” (lived by what they have been taught.) In John 17:9, Jesus says, “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours.” Since we Christians belong to God, he protects and guards us from the evil one. The devil roams about the world trying to steal away from God those who have chosen to belong to God. We are in the world but do not belong to the world and the devil but to God and heaven. In John 18:36, in speaking to Pilate, “Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom does not belong to this world’.” In John 17:17, Jesus says, “Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth.” To be consecrated means to be given or devoted completely and totally to God who is the fullness of truth, of what is eternally divine and not just a temporary gloss or veneer that appears to be momentarily pleasing in the eye of the world.

1 John 4:7-10, 11-16 (the second readings of both the Sixth and Seventh Sundays of Easter). In 1 John 4:16, we read: “God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.” When our life comes from the love that God is giving us every moment of our lives, then we remain in God and in his love. If we cooperate with the Holy Spirit’s work for our sanctification, then we build holiness within ourselves from the Spirit’s developing within us a sharing in God’s divine life that is the result of God’s endless act of loving us. The love that has been poured into us is what we share by loving one another as he has loved us. God demands to see the fruit of his work of love in us. Jesus says in John 15:16-17, “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.” When we do God’s work of love, we do it with him. He never leaves our side, so to give us whatever we need to accomplish his Will, his work of love through us and in us.

Easter Reflection April 29, 2018

East5B18. Acts of the Apostles 9:26-31. Barnabas brought Paul “to the apostles, and he reported how he had seen the Lord,” and how in Damascus Paul “had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.” Paul cooperated with Jesus so that a true conversion was effected in him to the extent that, despite the threat of persecution, he spoke out publicly to convert others to Jesus. The presence of Jesus bore fruit in him as it did in the building up of converts in Israel.

John 15:1-8. “Remain in me as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you, unless you remain in me.” The power of Jesus flows through us so that we can be truly productive. Whatever we try to do without Jesus is useless. Since what we ourselves do is worthless, then we are useless, worthy to be thrown out in the fire like worthless branches and be burned. To remain in the Lord means to draw our life from him. So deep should our life be in Jesus that it is no longer we who are at the center of personhood but he who lives in us. We lose ourselves in our life with him yet still remain people who daily must renew our choice to live in him. For each of us, I still am I but now I find myself living in the depths of a joy I had never known before because I remain in him and he remains in me. In Galatians 2:20, Paul says, “yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me.” In 1 John 5:12, John writes, “Whoever possesses the Son has life; whoever does not possess the Son of God does not have life.”

In Philippians 2:13, Paul writes, “For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work.” God and only God is the root of all goodness. It is God working through us who unite ourselves to him who truly works the genuine good. Without uniting ourselves to him everything we do is worthless or bad. The good we do in God gives glory to God. Jesus says in John 14:13, “And whatever you ask in my name (i.e. in accord with his will and in Christ), I will do, so that the Father may be gloried in the Son.”

1 John 3:18-24. I believe what John is addressing here is that some Christians needed to be reassured that they were truly living in Christ and not just diluting themselves. “Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit he gave us.” His Spirit reassures us that he dwells within us because Jesus and his love is our way of life. “And his commandment is this: we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us.”