Monday, May 24, 2010

Temporary Relocation

This evening, your scribe will be departing for more southern regions.  For the week, the life of the retired gentleman, will be mine.  Driving to Miami, stopping along the way to see points of interest and a former Jesus the Divine Word parishioner in Cary, SC, ultimately the journey will lead me to St. Maarten, San Juan, another island  and back to Miami.  It will be a a seven day sea journey.  A close friend from Philadelphia will be joining me.  While I am driving and sailing, I will not have the opportunity to offer reflections for you.  However, I do recommend that you open up the Bishops' Conference website where you can find a presentation of a reflection:  Enjoy the break from my ways of thinking!!!  I return to DC on the 9th of June and will resume.  While away, I will celebrate my 69th birthday and my 38th ordination anniversary.  So this is a marvelous way to begin my seventieth year on God's earth.  Many thanks to my brother's fiance who had the tickets and could not make the journey which is a use or lose.  God works in most unusual ways.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pentecost Sunday -- 2010

Good morning.  Today’s scripture readings for this feast of Pentecost present two different moments of the “coming of the Holy Spirit.”  Somewhat different, nevertheless, St. Luke and St. John convey one message:  the Holy Spirit is a unique gift to the Church, to each of us.  Each of us well knows the stories, especially St. John’s story of the event happening in an upper room.

This morning, let me tease your minds a little.  Let’s leave these two “appearances of the Holy Spirit,” and turn our attention to a third celebration of this unique event in our Church’s history.  Think with me this morning about the day when your either knelt or stood in front of a man who was called Bishop, Archbishop or Cardinal to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.  That day was a day when the Holy Spirit came to each of us.  This was the day when the  Holy Spirit was “poured out with abundance,” as church people like to say upon each of us.

What are we to think about this feast, a feast day that is particular to each one of us who has been confirmed?  Let me share the thoughts of a young man in his twenties who writes and speaks through the media each day.  He notes that we might think about this today:  what is the greatest title that exists in the Church today?  Surely some would say “Saint” but not as many as you might think.  Others might have suggested Priest, Bishop, Cardinal or Pope until recent times.  Yet none of these is the “greatest” title.
As a clue, remember no greatness can be bestowed upon any man or woman in our world who has not faced and lived through challenges ... just as the apostles and disciples did in the early days of the Church ... when the two “Pentecosts” took place.

No, friends, as my close friend said in one of his speeches last week, the greatest name is one that we all share:  you and I and ever member of our Church bears the greatest name of all.  We are, all of us, BELIEVERS.  Yes, I do agree with my friend because to be a believer, especially in our times is one of the most difficult challenges put before us.  Why?  Because to be a believer means this:  “to trust, to have faith that, in doing our little, flawed part, God will accomplish the rest, both within us and in our work.”

How challenging is our faith if we truly take to heart the words of Paul to the early church:  “there are many gifts, but the same Spirit.”  I truly believe it is what this thought conveys that make being a believer so challenging.  Just think of the parishioners you know in this parish, the ones that you personally know, the one’s who voice opinions that differ from yours.  Are you willing to be open to St. Paul’s words:  “the same Spirit”?

Yesterday I was involved in conversations with two very dedicated Christians, Catholics.  One person told me how she help Pope Benedict in the highest of esteem.   About an hour later I listened to remarks from a man who is convinced that Pope Benedict has been something of a failure as our Pope.  Yet, as I said, remarks for two very dedicated Catholics who attend Mass regularly.  And, as is our modern style of confronting such issues, those who like the woman’s position think the man is crazy, certainly far from “the same Spirit.”  Likewise others might agree with the man and consider the woman totally missing what is happening in our Church today.

So what are we to make of this “many different gifts” and “the same Spirit”?  Is it craziness?  Is it ignorance?  What if I then told you that the woman is very much in favor of gay rights for Catholics?  What if I told you the man was convinced the Second Vatican Council was the worst action of the Church in centuries? 

Do you sense what I am saying?  To be a believer is not easy because to believe is to test one’s faith every day.  How many people left the Church or stood in strong opposition when altars were turned to face you and the Latin language was shelved?  Yet, many today would stand in protest against mandated return to Latin Masses.

Our experience of faith today places great demands upon our believing so much so that the Holy Spirit might be considered the busiest Person of the Trinity.

As we think of the “new Pentecost” we live in during these post Vatican II decades, are not many challenged to give up our faith or simply to back away from active participation in the Church?

Today, then, don’t we need to take to heart the words of the Sequence prayer that we said together with great seriousness?  Don’t we need to call out as a people of God the words we prayed:  “Heal our wounds, our strength renew ....Bend the stubborn heart and will; melt the frozen, warm the chill; guide the steps that go astray .... give them joys that never end.”

Friday, May 21, 2010

In the Strangest Places: Meet Your God

Today is Friday, another ending of a work-week for most.  Perhaps today's readings, especially the words of St. John may have significance since we are about to celebrate the feast of Pentecost this weekend.  Follow me, Jesus says to the disciples in on of his appearances to them.

Jesus may not be "appearing" to you as he appeared to the disciples, but he does appear to us each day in many ways.  As we make our faith journey each day it is similar to a waterway making its way to that end, an ocean, a bay, or a larger river.  All along that journey, people and events will offer encounters with Jesus if a soul and heart are allowed to speak within and are noticed.  If we listen, we will hear his voice, the same voice spoken to the disciples:  "Follow me!"

Think who you are and what you do.  Think about the people you have encountered in these last five days: at work, among friends, family and even strangers.  Think about some of the peculiar events or occasions that have occurred this past week.  In each of them there was the opportunity to follow the Lord Jesus.

How about the single mom or single dad, struggling each day to be the very best double-parent that he or she can be for the children?  Here is a meeting with Jesus who taught the sacredness of children.  Then think of the man or woman working excessive hours or two or even three jobs to keep his family as far removed from suffering want or need as possible.  Think of the young man or woman who might be struggling to answer the question "Who am I?"  Recall the telephone call you may have received or made that surprised you.   All we need do is STOP, LOOK and LISTEN.  The gift of the Holy Spirit will enable us to respond heartily to Jesus' invitation to the disciples and yourself:  "FOLLOW ME!"

It is an invitation we should not want to forget.  It is a calling to walk with the Son of God.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


The confession of one's faith is not an easy act for many in a culture that surrounds us more than ever before.  The fact of 24/7/365 television and radio saturates so much of what we see and hear.  This morning on a talk radio station the topic was this:  does it really matter how many times a person is married if the person wants to run for the office of President of the United States.  It spread to other issues of morality when one of the hosts began to cite the examples of individuals whose moral behavior cost them political office ... but only to find them returning after several years of "repentance."  This seemed to be okay!

What is it we mean when we profess our faith?  If you are asked by someone, "What is the key doctrine of your faith as a Christian, as a Roman Catholic?"  Would you answer as St. Paul did during the times he was challenged because of his preaching?  The great teacher made clear that for him the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the linchpin of the faith.  A faith built upon Jesus' resurrection and the reasons for his teaching the morals related to the Ten Commandment seem to be lost in the lives of many regardless of the particular religious affiliation they profess within the Christian community.

The example noted above is what happens to people of faith when a purpose of faith in a person's life is overcome by issues that undermine.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bright Endings and the Successes That Follow.

"They were all weeping loudly....for they were deeply distressed that he had said that they would never see his face again" (first reading).  You have just read the penultimate sentences of Paul's words to the Ephesians.  I have often wondered what Paul must have felt when he departed from the various cities he had visited.  Leaving Ephesus, he knew that he would not return.

Imagine the questions that must have darted through his mind and heart as they made their final prayers together:  Did I succeed?  Who will follow me, protecting them, leading them further in their faith?  And are these not the thoughts of many parents, grandparents, God-parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, siblings and friends as Pomp and Circumstance is played for the umteenth time?  Have I done what God expected of me?  Will there be others who follow me in whatever work I have done, perhaps so much better, so much closer to God, so

And isn't that the thought that races through my mind each evening or early morning as I reflect on the words of the biblical writers and Jesus Christ?  Isn't this the thought of each priest as he walks from the pulpit so many times throughout his life?

Have I been successful?  As the sun sets, there is the hope that "the sun'll come out tomorrow, tomorrow.  Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there'll be sun...."  Will the message that all of us have tried to convey to other not die but live on and successfully so in the lives of those we have tried to teach, those we have loved?

And isn't it the same thought that Jesus expresses in his prayer to the Father?  Powerful thoughts as the sun sets ... and we are now entering a season of many beautiful sunsets.  Take advantage to enjoy a few of them during the summer days ahead of us.  Let them open up your heart and soul.

Picture:  Potomac River at one of its widest points, Faulker, MD.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Computer Benefits -- Even our Faith

Aren't there moments when our education serves us very well?  Likewise aren't there moments when our education fails to remind us that we do not know everything?  The picture above is from the screen of my computer.  It is the English version of the Vatican website and its many sections.  It is just one source of realizing how much there is to learn about our Church and our faith.  Many other websites offer the opportunity to learn more and more each day about who I am as a Roman Catholic and, in particular, a priest.

Today's readings for the Eucharistic Liturgy serve us a wonderful reminder that we do not know all things of our faith or our religion.  We are treated to a discussion between Jesus and his students, the disciples.  Seemingly this group of disciples have come from a moment when clarity has shone through examples, probably the parables, that were not as well understood as the disciples would like or needed.
At last, they must have felt, the message is coming through to them.  They have had to seek out from Jesus what it was that he wanted them to know and to carry forward in their lives and roles as his disciples.  The apostles, as well, encountered moments when they realized the need for further teaching to "students" they believed had captured the message of Jesus.    Apparently many had learned much from the teachings of John the Baptist.  That body of teaching, however, did not seem to include the full teachings of Jesus.  So, the apostles and other disciples had to teach what has been called a "baptism in Christ Jesus."

During my presence in Raleigh last week, I spoke with a number of Southern Baptists.  I was amazed at how many responded to some of my questions with "Only a few years ago was I truly saved.  Only a few years ago did I experience the baptism in Christ Jesus.  He is now truly my Lord and Savior."  What was so evident was how much the "conversion" brought these wonderful people to feel the genuine need to know more and more about Jesus Christ.  What they learned as children was only a partial fulfillment of coming to know their faith and the Lord Jesus.  More amazing were the number of elderly people who  commented how helpful their computers --yes, their computers--  had become in learning so much more about their faith and their relationship to Jesus Christ.

And so, where are we Roman Catholics today in our learning our faith, our religion, our Church?  The avenues to knowing our faith in today's world are so multiple and varied.  You don't know her and she most likely will always remain behind the veil in more ways than her vocation as a consecrated religious, but, but, but ... we owe many words of thanks to a Sister Judith who has had so much to do with bringing the Catholic Church and the Holy See to the world through her skills with the computer.  Thank you Sister Judith and may you continue to be a source of learning and, ultimately prayer in our lives.   Also google "Vatican's Sister Judith" to gather a number of publications about the "geeky Sister," as she has been dubbed by a number of authors.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ascended But Always With Us: Ascension Sunday, 2010

Today look at the photo ... it was taken yesterday morning in Raleigh, NC ... in a hotel garden.  The droplets reminded me that there was a heavy coating of humidity in the air during the hours from sunset until sunrise.  There was no rain.  Just heavy dew.  A reminder that even though unseen moisture was present, present enough to create dew drops on the small plants in the garden.

This photo might suggest how we think about Jesus after his Ascensions into heaven.  His work of redemption was completed, he made appearances to his close associates and colleagues for a  40 day period after his resurrection from the tomb.  Now, we celebrate today his Ascension.  His physical presence among us is finished.  However, we are not abandoned.  His presence continues among us, like the droplets on the greenery.  So, there is no reason for us to ever express doubts that he is not with us each day through all of the pains and disappointments, through all the joys and great moments of our lives.  "How so?" some might ask.

First and foremost do not forget the experience that occurs in almost every church on a daily basis:  "This is my body.  This is my blood."  At the altars around the world every day, "I am with you always."  In every church or chapel where there is a tabernacle, where the Blessed Sacrament is present, "I am with you always."  This is not enough?  Then consider this:  the special gifts that Jesus entrusted to his Church as supports to us along our faith journey:  the Seven Sacraments.  Just for a moment think about each of these sacraments and how some of them have impacted your lives to date.

Last week there were several postings that focused attention on the soul.  One clear avenue to the soul is understanding our hearts.  Jesus is not only with us he is within us.  His gift of himself is a gift that exceeds any gift we may have received.  My brothers and sisters, if you find yourselves wondering at times, "Where is Jesus when I need him?" take some time to sit quietly in his presence, enter the tabernacle of your heart where you are invited to open yourself to his voice, his messages to you.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


From early today until Sunday, your Prayer on the Hill blogger will be attending a series of talks at the Raleigh Convention Center.

During that time you will have a brief reprieve from my soul search with you.

Enjoy the weekend.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Have We Forgotten the Soul?

Paul's reaction to his imprisonment:  singing songs of praise!  How strange!  However, consider this:  the more a person is acquainted with spiritual depths, the more the person experiences a calm personality.  Even after the earthquake had jarred open the prison cells, Paul and his companions did not run wildly form their cells.  Why not?

Paul and many others we have read about or encountered in our lifetimes have developed an awareness of their own consciousness.  They are no stronger to the energy that is produced when one is able to focus on his/her inner being, the soul, rather than on worrying about their personalities.  So often Paul's conversion is presented as a turn to a new religion, a new belief.  In reality, the true conversion may not have been his religious practice change.  His faith in Jesus can be seen as the result of Paul's discovering his soul!  Writer Gary Zukav calls the soul the mothership or reference point for the personality of the individual. 
Paul's life, prior to the Damascus encounter and subsequent meetings with the risen Jesus was filled with conflict.  His struggles with his Jewish faith and actions against the Christians are clear signs that he was far removed from personal moments with his soul.  Zukav further points out that the greater the separation from the soul, the more one's personality is conflicted.  A well-balanced personality is a signal to others that a person is in touch with his/her soul.  "Bad hair days" and "bad day at the office" may be nothing more than a sign of not being in touch with who I truly am, nothing more than a sign that me and my soul are not truly good friends!  But the person we encounter who is in touch with his/her soul is, when you consider the signals his/her personality beams out to others, is the "whole human being."

It is the Advocate that is the power or divine source enabling us.  Jesus tells his disciples he will be leaving them so that this power, the Holy Spirit, will come to empower us to overcome the conflicts, the sins in our lives.  It is the conversion from sinfulness, from particular habitual sins, that is the experience of the sinner searching his/her soul and discovering the way to true peace, to the fullness of life the God promised his followers.  It is the more frequent visitations with our soul that strengthens our commitment to a new life, just as Paul himself encountered his soul in his days of blindness.

Have we, as individuals and as as a Church, become so distracted by the allurements in society that our very soul, our mothership, has been abandoned?  A tough question. 

Monday, May 10, 2010

Journey to the Soul

Today, as you read through another portion of the Acts of the Apostles, what should be evident is this:  true evolution is happening on several levels.  I know you are wondering what the picture above has to do with the Acts reading.  Be patient.  You will find in later in this posting.

We are witnessing the formation of the early Church in the first reading.  We are seeing and hearing experiences that lead us beyond the sensory realities to an awareness of the soul.  Even as you read these words of this blogger, you are delving into his soul as he invites you to experience the movements caused by his encounter with a woman named Lydia.  She is a merchant of St. Paul's time.  Purple dye is her trade.  But what is unique about Lydia is that she has a heart that is open to various human experiences.  She hears Paul teaching about Jesus and his welcoming Gentiles.  She listens intentively.  Her soul has been stirred by what she hears.  After mulling over Paul's messages, she sought baptism for herself.  Obviously she was so moved by the message, her soul was moved to action:  she encouraged her household to follow her journey into the faith that Paul was teaching.  She had become a true disciple: she brings others to Jesus Christ.  She gave witness to Jesus and what he had taught during his lifetime.  She had heard beyond the words of the apostle.  Her soul had drawn her to an invisible realm where she experienced the deepest of values.

It was Lydia's personality which brought an evolution in her life to seek and know the story and message of the preacher from Nazareth.  In this personal evolution she allowed her personality to be active in the direction of her life.  In this experience she encounters an authentic empowerment because she responds to the energy of her soul.

Now to the picture above: today's feast in the Catholic Church is a first time feast day for one of the newest saints, canonized only within the last several months, October 11, 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI.  He is a man few would recognize by his given and family names:  Joseph de Veuster.  But the world knows this priest, one of the four Roman Catholic priests honored by an artistic creation in Statuary Hall of the United States Capitol building in Washington, DC.  You and most of the world know him as Damien the Leper, St. Damien of Moloka'i, Hawaii.  Pictured above is a photo of the leper colony where Damien allowed his soul to direct his life.  In the illness, Hansen's Disease, and suffering of the abandoned lepers (dumped into the waters around the island and told to swim ashore if they wished to survive) St Damien saw more than sores, more than rotting flesh.  He gave witness to the suffering of Jesus Christ in the tragic lives of the lepers.

So, today we have two individuals whose personalities responded to a movement in their hearts.  Naturally, then, the question arises:  how intently do I look beyond the surface of the daily experiences in my life to allow my personality to be pulled into alignment with your soul?  Are we so busy today that we forgo the opportunity to share authentic empowerment?  Let us pray for ourselves and one another that we may, like Lydia and Damien, allow our personalities to lead us to know our soul's guidance each and every day.

The picture was taken from a high point across from the leper colony on the island of Moloka'i by the blogger on a visit to Hawaii two years ago.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

"That All May Be ONE"

John 17:20-26.  The selected gospel verses for this reflection are the recommendation for this Sunday's liturgy when the Ascension of the Lord is celebrated next Sunday.  It is the reading that would have been read on the 7th Sunday of Easter were it not for the alteration to Ascension Sunday.  The significance of the verses is that we are privileged to listen to the private prayer of Jesus.  For us this is a gift often overlooked or forgotten. 

The event in the reading actually takes place only a few hours before Jesus would begin the excruciating suffering that would end his life.  We might expect that he would utter words, even pleas, for himself.  Not so!  Neither did he pray for his closest associates or his mother or those who had come to believe in him through the words of his other followers.

The gift, a mystery, was and is that he offered his prayer to the Father for you and me.  And surprisingly he is not asking the Father to cure illnesses, nor for successful business adventures, nor for emotional health.  More surprising there is not a prayer for protection form social evils such as injustice, discrimination or poverty.  He does not ask his Father to end wars or violence of any kind.

No, to our surprise, perhaps, Jesus prays "that they all may be one."  Not just some of us but that ALL of us, all the people God has brought into this world.  Unity is his primary concern for all of us.  Surely as the Son of God he knew how many times nations would be engaged in wards against other nations, that families would be divided; that hatred would dictate so many human failures.

In calling the Church to Vatican II, Pope John XXIII stated that the reason for his decisions in the matter were twofold:  updating our Church and, what is so often forgotten perhaps because there is so much division in the world, his call for unity.

Perhaps we need to reconsider Jesus' prayer.  We need to redirect our efforts to make Jesus' prayer a reality.  Can there be any reason against such efforts when a major root of division in our world today is rooted in a religion based activity ... the radical use of words found in the Koran?  Hear these words from the Decree on Ecumenism presented by the Council Fathers at the Second Vatican Council.

"The faithful should remember that they promote unity among Christians better, that indeed they live it better, when they try to live holier lives according to the Gospel.  For the closer their union with the Father, the Word and the Spirit, the more deeply and easily will they be able to grow in mutual brotherly and sisterly love."

To this we might well add that we should promote mutual relations with other non-Christian religions, again, especially in our times.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Early Church Continues to Teach

Again, in the selected portion of the Acts of the Apostles, today's first reading for the liturgy, we are offered a solution to a disturbed peace of mind.  Luke recalls how the apostles confronted a challenged presented to the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria and Silicia (cities a goodly distance from where the apostles were, places where Paul and Barnabas were planning to visit) .  There were some ardent teachers who were preaching on their own, not in accord with the teachings of the apostles and Jesus.  They teaching that the Jewish members of the community and the Jewish Christians elsewhere had to separate themselves from some of their Jewish understanding and practice that they continued.

It is a picture of unity that we see in this portion of Acts.  It is a lesson to us when we are disturbed by almost any issue or event in our lives.  You name it and if unity is brought to it, you will experience the peace the working together can bring.  Of course it will not make the problem disappear.  However, it will bring an ability to confront the challenge and find a peace in one's heart.

Is it not the same message caring parents offer their children when they offer encouragement to talk about the problems that might be weighing upon the younger members of the family?

What is it at its root?  It is the love that Jesus preaches in the gospel:  Love one another.  He makes clear that there is no greater love than to lay down one's life for another.  It may mean facing what it means to live "outside the box."  And this requires of us a genuine need for prayer ... and sometimes praying together.  It is praying and working together that enables the love Jesus teaches to become a reality.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Continued Search for Peace

Today's readings.  The early Church continues to grow.  Creating challenges for the Gentiles who hear the word of God and desire to become a part of the Christian community seemed to be a concern.  Perhaps we might consider the current "pre-launch" days of the upcoming debate on immigration that will create concerns on how we, as a national, address the reality of so many people who have a strong desire to become a part of our American family.

We see in the reading from the Acts of the Apostles these powerful words from St. Peter who said:  "Why, then, are you now putting God to the test by placing on the shoulders of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear?"  Peter was questioning whether believing in Jesus required the following of Mosaic law and customs in addition to faith in Jesus Christ.  Peter and Paul both gave testimony to their hearers as to the impact of their teachings and the power of the Holy Spirit.  Clearly the Spirit's intentions were heard in the hearts of the apostles in their work among the Gentiles.  That was sufficient.

The gospel reminds us, then, that we are called by Jesus to "Remain in my love."  And how do we do that?  By keeping the Commandments.  Some suggest this:  if we truly love someone, we do not need laws to guide us.  A genuine love for another person should remove the necessity of being told how to act, how to care for one you love.  Our living the commandments is made so clear by the love we are called to give to one another.  Knowing what true love is with regard to others, is an example of what living the Commandments means.

The immigration question:  We are called to love one another.  Can this be the guiding principal in any discussion of the topic?  Or, is "Thou shalt not ...." the driving force?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Truly Timely Words to Consider

If you listen to "talk radio" or "cable television," if you read "blogs," "editorial pages" of local or national newspapers, you would more likely than not be ready to toss all of these media into the nearest river.  One set of these media protected by constitutional rights, has you supporting the President and his policies, another set in the media speaks out as the "loyal opposition," and then, a most recent creation has joined these two sets speaking out against everything they don't appreciate.  It is quite a scene when you consider all three.

The message of today's readings is so appropriate.  Peter and Paul have differing opinions about evangelization and how the early Church should be established.  But Jesus along with Peter and Paul agree on one teaching:  Jesus in the vine and we, all of us, are the branches.  As a branch, our duty is to remain attached to the vine and to live with the life giving graces of the vine.

If all the people who are out there proclaiming their faiths remained true to these words of Jesus, there would be a major change:  no confrontation or division.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Peace I Give You

Today's readings include a repetition -- the mother of all learning!  We have the opportunity to gather from Paul's sufferings and dedication a sense of the intensity of his faith.  Paul, because he is such an avid preacher, continues to spread the Good News, a costly adventure.  He is stoned by some Jewish enemies from Antioch and Iconium and his body is carried out of the city.  The stoners thought he was dead.  The next day he was up and traveling with Barnabas for the town of Derbe.  He continued his preaching, continued his traveling, continued to live in the peace of Jesus Christ, free from fear. The words of the gospel assure us that Jesus with always afford us the gift of peace.

Taking leave and peace:  two principal themes in both readings.  Both Paul and Jesus do their thing.  They are teachers, preachers and healers.  They build communities that will be a strong support to those who listen, to those who accept the messages they bring to the various towns and places they visit.

This is a time of the year when many young people experience the "pains" of departure ... leaving the community of friends after several years in academic endeavors at a local high school or a university.  It is an interesting experience even for adults to watch, to experience with their children.  Over time these young people will realize how strong the groups of friends become a significant part of their lives.  As they move on to another level of education or, hopefully, into the world of employment, they will understand the meaning of leaving and beginning anew.

What is important is that we adults realize the same experiences in our lives.  All of us are challenged at times by leaving relationships for any number of reasons.  What is important is that we trust, as did St. Paul, the promise that Jesus gave to his disciples prior to his death.  He pledged the gift of peace that would rest in their spirits as longs as they believed in him and the Father.  It would be a peace the would enable them to endure suffering, loss, disappointment and emptiness ... even stoning and martyrdom.  It is the same peace Jesus promises us each day especially when we receive the Eucharist, his sacred gift of peace.

If you cannot attend a Mass today, take a few moments and in a quiet place engage yourself in a conversation with Jesus.  Share the moments of struggle that might be weighing heavily upon your shoulders; share your felt need for a genuine peace of heart and soul.  Wars will not end, conflicts will not cease, disagreements will not fade away, loss will not hurt but deep within your heart you will have a special sense of the peace Jesus brought to his apostles and his followers since his death and Resurrection.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sts Philip and James: Apostles

Some background because, like so many, the history of these two apostles is little known or understood.  Philip was the man who asked Jesus where he was going?  How could they follow him since they were not so sure of his mission.  This Philip was born at Bethsaida.  He became interested in Jesus because of the preaching of John the Baptist.  John led him to Jesus.  You might recall that Philip was the apostle Jesus had help in getting food for the people who were following Jesus.  After the death, Resurrection and Ascension, historians have indicated that Philip continued his apostolic work in what we know as Turkey.

James is known to be the cousin of Jesus.  His father is Alphaeus.  The church in Jerusalem was under his care.  Through his efforts and the Council of Jerusalem, the Gentiles were allowed to become Christians.  They were not required to be circumcised.  James has a letter published in the New Testament of every bible.  Historians record his martyrdom in 61 AD.

It is the activity of apostles such and Philip and James that might make you and me wonder about their subsequent work as followers of Jesus.  What made the difference in their lives was a simple reality.  It was this:  these men and the other apostles and a few others had that extraordinary gift from Jesus:  he appeared to them after the Resurrection.  Wouldn't your life be very different if there was a day when Jesus appeared to you and spoke with you?  Most likely, you would become another Paul, another Philip, another James.  How could you not become so driven?

But Jesus has not appeared to us.  So, we are called upon to believe.  There's the challenge!  Have a great day!