In today’s Gospel Christ tells His disciples, “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now”. Jesus knows the hearts of His disciples; He knows they love Him. But He also knows that they are not expecting nor are they ready to endure the hardships that come with proclaiming the resurrection of the Savior.
The disciples will be met with rejection and hatred, just as Christ was during His Passion. Jesus knows what He will suffer and He is preparing His disciples for what will come after His Passion, Death, and Resurrection. I would imagine that hearing “…you cannot bear it now” would make me feel anxious. What could be so horrible that Christ couldn’t even tell me about it? Christ follows that, though, with reassurance that the Holy Spirit will be with them. He tells them that the Holy Spirit “…will guide you to all truth”.
The same is true for us today. How many times does it feel like we don’t know what will happen next? The future can feel scary and unbearable. But Christ’s assurance that the Holy Spirit will guide us is what we ought to place our faith in. When we place our faith in the Holy Spirit, rather than ourselves, we surrender control to God and, in doing so, also glorify God.
Today’s first reading from Acts of the Apostles is my absolute favorite story of evangelization. St. Paul tells the Athenians who have an altar in honor of “An Unknown God” that he knows who that unknown god is. The God that is unknown to the Athenians is the one, true God who became man and saved us from our sins. Paul then goes on to tell the Athenians how good God is, that He created the world and mankind, that it is He who will judge us with justice, and that He is the one who resurrected from the dead. It took great courage for St. Paul to proclaim this good news to the Athenians. He knows that when telling others about his faith in Christ, he faces the possibility of being met with hostility. But it is precisely his faith in Christ and his knowledge that he is being led by the Holy Spirit that allows him to preach, regardless of the consequences.
As St. Paul told the Athenians, God created the world and mankind “…so that people might seek God, even perhaps grope for him and find him, though indeed he is not far from any one of us”. May we continue to seek God in all that we do and do everything for His glory! When life feels unbearable, may we look to Christ and leave our anxieties at the foot of the Cross.
Dakota lives in Denver, CO with her husband, Ralph, and their two sons, Alfie & Theophilus. She is the Dean of Enrollment Management for Bishop Machebeuf High School where her husband also teaches. You can find Dakota at the zoo or a brewery with her family or with her nose in a book at home. For more of Dakota’s writing check out https://dakotaleonard16.blogspot.com/
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What has Jesus left his disciples? He has not written a book, or established a political entity, or given the Jews control over the earth, or crushed the Romans (as so many believed and hoped he would). It seems he has left them nothing tangible, and now he is leaving. Surely, the disciples are grieved and confused about the future as Jesus tells them he is going.
Jesus is going to the one who sent him: the Father, Whose Heart is our Home forever.
He is going. But his work is surely not done. His mission certainly does not end with his death, or with his return to the Father. In fact, returning to the Father is part of his mission, because he tells us that it is only if he goes that he can SEND the Advocate. “If I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.”
And what is the importance of this Advocate, this Holy Spirit? What does he bring to the world, and to the disciples? Jesus has left nothing tangible, but he has established a Kingdom – THE Kingdom, GOD’S Kingdom – through his life, death, and resurrection, and he will spend the rest of human history expanding that Kingdom, one heart at a time. And he left on earth the instrument through which he will expand this Kingdom: the Church. He left no writing or political game plan. He left a living Church, animated and enlivened, guided “to all truth,” and guaranteed infallible by the Holy Spirit.
This Church will work out its governance over time, guided by the Spirit. This Church will safeguard all the treasures poured out by God, with the guarantee of the Spirit. This Church will carry the word of Truth to the ends of the earth, letting this light tear down idols and put an end to human sacrifice, with the blazing Fire of the Spirit. This Church will compile the world’s best-selling Book, with the light of the Spirit. This Church will reach out in love and establish hospitals and universities and orphanages, with the creative love of the Spirit. This Church will stand firm against all political powers and cultural confusions and worldly upheavals, with the steadfastness of the Spirit. This Church will make all the grace of redemption available to all peoples throughout all time, with the infinite mercy of the Spirit. This Church will bring souls into the family of God, and forgive them over and over again, and feed them with the very Body and Blood of the Lord every hour of the day, giving glory and praise to the Father, through and with and in the Son, in the unity of the Spirit.
This is what Jesus left his disciples, and us. This is the Faith we profess, and the Home in which we are nurtured until Christ be fully formed in us, and we are safe in the Heart of the Trinity forever.
Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including Father Rob), and four grandchildren. She is President of the local community of Secular Discalced Carmelites and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 30 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio. Currently, she serves the Church by writing and speaking, and by collaborating with various parishes and to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is www.KathrynTherese.com
Feature Image Credit: marilopz, www.cathopic.com/photo/15024-llegas-espiritu-dios
In today’s First Reading, we hear of Paul and Silas in their missionary travels, coming to the city of Phillipi. There they meet up with Lydia, a woman who sells purple cloth. Purple is the color of royalty. Lydia is most likely very well to do and sells purple cloth to the rulers in the area. Upon meeting Paul and Silas, she “opened her heart to pay attention to what Paul was saying.” Later, she is baptized a Christian and welcomes Paul and Silas into her home. Her home becomes one of the first house churches of the area.
While reflecting on the story of Lydia, I recalled a time in my own life when I opened my heart and home to another, truly paying attention and allowing myself to be transformed. Several years ago, while attending graduate school at the Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley, California, I went to a local craft fair. There I met a young man named Kekoa from Hawaii, who traveled around the country selling beautiful hats that he had woven out of palm leaves, adorned with flowers and flying fish. Selling these hats was his livelihood. I discovered that he did not have a place to stay and invited him to stay at my home. He accepted the offer and our time together was delightful, one of genuine conversation which is hard to come by this day and age.
Soon, he went on his way to the next city to sell his wares, but I was changed. The joy that exuded from Kekoa was contagious, and I imagine it being similar to the joy of Paul and Silas, who preached of Jesus crucified and then risen from the dead. While my response was not baptism, like that of Lydia’s, I emerged from the exchange a different person. I have come, in my own faith journey, to realize that church is not only a place that we worship on Sundays, but is how we treat one another every day, including welcoming the strangers in our midst. We are called to reach out to those around us.
With cell phones at our side and notifications and emails popping up all over the place, the gift of being present to another is becoming a lost art. We are a very distracted people, often not truly in tune to those persons in our midst. We may look interested, but are we truly paying attention?
Today, I still have the hat that I purchased from Kekoa, and it is much more than something that provides shade. Rather, it is a reminder to me of what is possible if we take the time to listen to one another, allowing their stories and the fabric of their lives to flow through our very beings.
Monica Edgar enjoys spending time with her two children, Fiona and Will, and her husband, Carl. Prior to moving to Montana in 2005, she studied at the Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley, where she obtained a Masters in Ministry for a Multicultural Church. She is very blessed to be a part of Saint Mary Catholic Community in Helena, Montana, where she serves as a lector and minister of hospitality. In her free time, she enjoys going out for coffee with friends, taking walks, and her new found hobby of knitting.
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The transition crisis from before the passion to the foundation wall of the holy city Jerusalem.
Here at the end of the beautiful month of May and near the end of the Easter Season, the difficult and heart-wrenching days of the Paschal Triduum and the suffering and betrayal of the Lord are in the mists of my memory. This reading, however, brings me back with joy to those sorrowful days.
At the Last Supper we got a snapshot of the spiritual state of the apostles before the passion and death of their Master…before their dismal failure to stand with the One who was their Life. Peter boldly proclaimed at that Passover supper that he would die with Jesus, only a few hours later to declare he didn’t even know him. All of the Twelve wanted to be sure that they weren’t the one who would betray the Lord. “Is it I, Lord?” they each asked.
As Jesus walked into the mystery of his salvific death, alone, abandoned by his chosen Twelve, they each learned what they were capable of doing without their Lord and Master. Nothing. They each in some way abandoned Jesus. Before, they had fought with each other to see who would be the greatest, who was the most important, and Peter had tried to convince Jesus that the cross and death in Jerusalem was really not a good idea for the Messiah. In those dark and fear-filled days after Jesus died on the cross something happened to each of them.
The Apostles learned existentially that they were completely dependent on Jesus. They needed him for absolutely everything. Without him they were nothing, like branches cut from the vine. For each of them it was a crisis, a turning point, a transformation as they painfully emerged into who they were truly to be in the Kingdom: the foundation stones of the holy city Jerusalem in heaven.
“The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its foundation, on which were inscribed the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Rev 21:14).
Moments of failure, of change, of challenge…we all have them. They are stages in our life in which we are still who-we-were and not quite yet who-we-will-be. And this liminal stage of confusion and darkness is what makes these times in our life so painful.
These transcendent crises come into my life on a regular basis. Sometimes the loss and confusion even last several years as I integrate who I was with who I am becoming, who I have been with who God has made me to be, my next step on the journey of my response to the call and grace of God. These are graced transitions.
If you are in one of these transformative crises in your life, take heart from the Twelve apostles. You may not be a stone in the foundation of the holy Jerusalem, and the Twelve certainly didn’t think they were during the 40 days after the resurrection when they remained fearfully hiding away. You have your own place in that holy city. You have been called with a purpose. Every event in your life has meaning. And no matter what you have come through or come from, God is working actively through every aspect of your daily life to keep moving you toward the fullness of what he has created you to be. Rejoice. Alleluia!
Kathryn James Hermes, FSP, is the author of the newly released title: Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments, by Pauline Books and Media. An author and spiritual mentor, she offers spiritual accompaniment for the contemporary Christian’s journey towards spiritual growth and inner healing. She is the director of My Sisters, where people can find spiritual accompaniment from the Daughters of St. Paul on their journey. Website: www.touchingthesunrise.com Public Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/srkathrynhermes/ For monthly spiritual journaling guides, weekly podcasts and over 50 conferences and retreat programs join my Patreon community: https://www.patreon.com/srkathryn.
Feature Image Credit: Andre Grachev, https://pixabay.com/photos/rye-corn-harvest-organic-macro-7128823/
St. Paul had a vision, “A Macedonian stood before him and implored him with these words, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” When he had seen the vision, we sought passage to Macedonia at once, concluding that God had called us to proclaim the Good News to them” (Acts 16:9). Perhaps you’ve not had a dream, but have you ever felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit for you too to share the Good News? Did you respond to the prompt, or did fear or uncertainty keep you from witnessing to your faith?
There are many ways to share the good news without a heroic trip across an ocean or to far-off lands. We can evangelize in our homes, families, or communities with genuine, often uncomplicated gestures. Here are a few suggestions:
- Invite someone to Sunday Mass (if you can, include breakfast to continue building your relationship with this person, which will make discussions about faith easier. It may also create a comfortable atmosphere where you can discuss something you heard in the readings or homily).
- Not sure who to invite? Simply share your parish’s Mass schedule on your social media. You never know how the Holy Spirit might use that post to reach people seeking to find a church. We can share many things on social media to inspire and encourage people to grow in faith — Scripture verses, saint quotes, or prayers.
- Consider starting a Christian book club or Bible study in your home or parish. Pick a book you are interested in, then ask a friend or two, “for where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).
- Offer to pray for people. Whether in person as someone is sharing a current difficulty or challenging situation, or you read it on social media. If you make a weekly Eucharistic Adoration hour, consider posting a request for prayers. I’ve done this for years and typically receive over a hundred prayer requests each time I do. While the idea of praying for so many might seem daunting but it is actually quite humbling and beautiful. I bring my phone into Adoration and scroll through the list offering each intention to the Lord. This activity has also provided the avenue to numerous incredible faith conversations.
- Pray for the Lord to make a way to share the Good News and in the expectation that one day He will “be prepared to make a defense [testimony] to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15). Don’t be afraid of what to say; just like the Lord prepared the prophet, Jeremiah, He too will put the words in your mouth.
- Forward videos, articles, or blogs that touched your heart to someone you think might also be blessed to read and receive that particular message.
If you are not comfortable or not quite ready to evangelize in these public ways, there is still something significant you can do—pray. Keep friends, family, and even strangers in prayer, without being asked or with anyone even knowing. Prayer, invoking the Holy Spirit, is a powerful gift the Apostles modeled for us. Seek the intercession of the Blessed Mother and as many Saints as you need. Just as the Spirit guided the early disciples to know where to go and when and with whom to speak, trust He is still at work and will guide you in the same way.
In the end, the best witness of faith is always how you live, especially when you allow the joy of the Lord to shine through your words and actions. There is a time to speak and a time to stay silent; you need not wonder or worry about which the Spirit is calling you. If you remain prayerfully open to where He moves you, the answer and the action will always be apparent.
Allison Gingras is a Deacon’s wife and seasoned mom of three. Allison works for Family Rosary as a social media and digital specialist, as well as a new media consultant for Catholic Mom and the Diocese of Fall River. She is the author of Encountering Signs of Faith: My Unexpected Journey with Sacramentals, the Saints, and the Abundant Grace of God (Fall 2022, Ave Maria Press). Allison developed the Stay Connected Journals for Women series including her two volumes – The Gift of Invitation and Seeking Peace (OSV). She’s hosted A Seeking Heart with Allison Gingras podcast since 2015.
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The views and opinions expressed in the Inspiration Daily blog are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Diocesan, the Diocesan staff, or other contributors to this blog.