"And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues." - Acts 2:4 Well then, the Holy Spirit must be with me. Half the time, when I talk, people look at me like I am speaking a different language, too! < drum rimshot > A Blessed Pentecost to all of you.
"Lord Jesus, we are an Easter people, and alleluia is our song. May we radiate the joy of Easter and live in the reality of Christ's victory over sin and death." This was my reflection on Friday and I've been reading it since. There is something so beautiful about it. And instead of cluttering it up with my rambling, I'm just going to let it sit there in all its splendor. "Lord Jesus, we are an Easter people, and alleluia is our song. May we radiate the joy of Easter and live in the reality of Christ's victory over sin and death."
The older I get, the more I realize how important it is to continue learning about our Catholic faith. It is important for many reasons, not the least of which is so we can understand God's will for us, and learn to love and obey Him to our fullest. But it is also important so that you can correctly spread the Word. The key word there is correctly. Because incorrect "preaching" is sometimes worse than no preaching at all. For example, last week an NBA player publicly admitted he was gay. This was followed by a prominent sportscaster bashing him on his show, telling the world that homosexuality is a sin. I believe the sportscaster meant well, and I give him credit for speaking up as a Christian in a world where it is not politically correct to do so. But he was wrong. It is not a sin to be gay. According to Catholic teaching, it is a sin to have sexual relations outside of marriage (which can only be between a man and woman). Regardless of whether you are gay, straight, or something in between. But being gay in and of itself is not a sin. Why does this matter? Because when we misrepresent Catholic teaching, we run the risk of people turning their backs on the Faith, or practicing it incorrectly (and teaching others to do the same). Like I said, I believe this sportscaster was trying to do the right thing. But he may have done more harm than good. It highlights the importance of continually learning what the Church teaches so we can help others do the same. God Bless.
Today's first reading starts off simply enough: Paul and Barnabas continued on from Perga and reached Antioch in Pisidia. But what gets lost in that brief sentence is what that journey entailed. Assuming they travelled by land, it would include:
More than 100 miles of walking. At a pace of less than 20 miles per day.
Rugged terrain - with steep roads (over 12,000 feet at its highpoint), deadly flash floods and rapidly changing weather.
Robbers, robbers, and more robbers. Even the Roman soldiers did not travel on this route without a garrison. In fact, depending on what exact route they took, its quite possible they traversed the most dangerous road in the Roman Empire.
Oh and this was most likely after the little episode where Paul was lashed 39 times, shipwrecked, and fell deathly ill.
It is remarkable what Paul, Barnabas, and other disciples did so that we could learn the faith, isn't it?
What really stuck with me this week, was that Thomas gets a bad rap.
Nine times out of ten, he is singled out as Doubting Thomas, not grouped with the other Apostles.
And part of that does wonders for our faith. As Victor so astutely points out in this post, Thomas provided us with even more evidence of Christ's Resurrection.
But the ironic thing - the thing that kept nagging at me all week - was that all of the Apostles were doubting Thomases, were they not?
Jesus told them that He was going to rise on the third day, and they still sat locked in their homes after His death, afraid and confused. It was not until they saw Him that they believed.
Likewise, when Mary Magdalene tells the Apostles that she saw the risen Lord, Luke tells us they did not believe her.It was not until John and Peter see the empty tomb that they believed her.
Weren't they just like Thomas? Did they not need visible proof before they believed?
Don't get me wrong, I don't think we need to add "Doubting" in front of every Apostle's name. Heck, if that were the case, we'd have to add it to all of ours as well. But maybe we can add an asterisk or something next to Thomas' to clarify that he wasn't the only one. Or put air quotes around "doubting" to indicate the irony.
Perhaps I will send a note to our newly elected Pope and see if he will champion this cause for me.
(Yes, I know what you are thinking. You'll believe it when you see it...)
I had fun last month posting my random thoughts, so I thought I would do the same again this week. Without further ado, here are twelve more after hearing Luke's Passion this Palm Sunday.
Despite knowing what awaited Him that night, our Lord had the patience and courage to keep teaching His apostles. Even as they argued over who was greatest.
Jesus tells Peter he must strengthen his brothers. I believe that duty is passed onto us as well.
Jesus heads out to the Mount of Olives. I often wonder why he liked it there so much. Did He like the backdrop of Jerusalem? Was it peaceful? Or just convenient? No matter what, it is poetic that the place He delivered Himself over to His enemies is the same place He ascended into Heaven from.
How far is a stone's throw? Are we talking a Peyton Manning throw? Or a soft underhand toss? Could they hear Him? See Him?
Jesus prays fervently and drips sweat "like drops of blood". The apostles sleep. These inharmonious images haunt me.
In my mind, Peter never denies Jesus from his heart. For me it was always a passing comment ... one meant to shoo off these people and keep himself alive. Kind of like when we tell white lies. We don't really feel like we are lying in the moment. Similarly, I really don't imagine Peter felt like he was truly denying Christ. Until that cock crowed.
Herod and Pilate became friends that day even though they had been enemies formerly. Even in the face of death, Jesus removed hatred from sinners.
The Jewish people choose Barabbas, yes. And the Romans executed Christ. But it was our sins that killed Jesus.
"Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves." Here was a Man headed off to be brutally murdered. And he is telling those on hand that they should cry for their future? Yikes.
"Today you will be with me in Paradise." I hope we all hear that when we are lying on our death beds. (Also, it would be a good inspirational line for a blog ;)
Our Lord's acquaintances stood at a distance and watched. I often picture them right under the cross the whole time. I forget how scared they still must have been.
He breathed His last. It must have been devastating to those who followed Him. That moment when their teacher was no longer with them. They must have been so confused; this "ending" must have been so different than they imagined. Little did they know...
Extra Credit Thought: I believe the centurion that praised God after Jesus breathed His last was the first convert based on our Lord's death.