St. Paul offers himself as an example, preaching the Gospel and training his body and soul with the same intensity as an athlete preparing for a great race. May we do the same, living for the Lord with conviction and drive.
The boldness of St. Peter is not for a moment. Rather, he displays a steadfast conviction to live his life for the Lord Jesus…not quitting, not giving up…for the resurrection of Christ has changed his life forever.
The death of John the Baptist reminds us of the cost of discipleship. Yet as we look at the Cross of Christ, we find hope and strength to face the hardship of life with the conviction of the Lord’s saving death and resurrection.
It can be somewhat confusing to know what readings to follow – depending on the day and the options available a person can hear a number of different Scripture readings this weekend. Stepping back for a moment, however, we can tease out some major themes that surface on this important feast of the Church:
Power – to face what comes before us with God’s strength
Unity – to join together beyond boundaries and divisions
In many respects this feast marks the birthday of the Church. The disciples, having watched the Lord ascend to Heaven, are now “on their own” to carry out the Good News of Christ. The point, of course, is that they are not alone! Filled with the Holy Spirit their hearts are transformed and their lives forever changed. They have become willing instruments empowered by the Spirit to speak and act for the glory of God. They don’t look anything like their former selves – timid, fearful, and self-serving; they now fearlessly engage the world with the conviction that Jesus is Lord.
And as they are strengthened by the Spirit one sign increasingly becomes apparent – the unity of believers as a self evident sign that God’s grace is at work. Several approaches underscore this sense of unity:
Understanding one another beyond the challenge of language
Working together as a body does with its many parts
Becoming spiritually fruitful
Forgiveness with one another
Language, cooperation, fruitfulness, and forgiveness are all hallmarks of the Spirit’s presence in our lives. All are crucial and take an enormous amount of effort – supported by the POWER of the Holy Spirit!
Is there a place in our lives today that would benefit from unity? Are there relationships and situations that require healing and strength to grow? Do we recognize circumstances (perhaps beyond our control) that cry out for the Lord’s intervention? If so, then we can confidently turn to the Spirit for the grace we need to face what lies before us.
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth. O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit did instruct the hearts of the faithful , grant that by the same Spirit we may be truly wise, and ever rejoice in his consolation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen!
The faith expressed by the woman in the Gospel today was simple and direct…and because of this her child was healed. May her example inspire us to take the gift of faith we have been given and engage our lives with the power and insight of Jesus Christ.
The first reading and the Gospel are at opposite ends of how people respond to the call of faith. In the first reading Peter’s prayer in the name of Jesus restores a dead woman, Tabitha, to life; in the Gospel the invitation of the Lord to eat his body and drink his blood causes many to walk away. It begs the question: How’s your faith? Is it vibrant or feeble, building others up or filled with doubts?