Sunday, May 10, 2009

Bestowing His Goodness

May 11, 2009

Monday of the Fifth Week of Easter

“We proclaim to you good news that you should turn from these idols to the living God, 'who made heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them.' In past generations he allowed all Gentiles to go their own ways; yet, in bestowing his goodness, he did not leave himself without witness, for he gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, and filled you with nourishment and gladness for your hearts.” Acts 14:15-17

Jesus answered and said to him, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me.” John 14:23-24


Psalm 115:1-8

Not to us, LORD, not to us but to your name give glory because of your faithfulness and love. Why should the nations say, "Where is their God?" Our God is in heaven; whatever God wills is done. Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths but do not speak, eyes but do not see. They have ears but do not hear, noses but do not smell. They have hands but do not feel, feet but do not walk, and no sound rises from their throats. Their makers shall be like them, all who trust in them.


“Remain in me.” Our natural state is Grace (sorry, not Arkansas, Pete.) Another way to think of this is the state of Communion. Perfect union.

Where is our God? God dwells in us…we dwell in God until we head out on our prodigal pursuits We are borne into this state of grace-filled communion. When we stick with the program, God sticks with us. When we don’t follow the words and teachings of Jesus, it allows the world to crowd the Father out of our lives.

Looking at a little baby lying in a manger or in the nursery at Hermann Hospital or at the Teddy Bear Day Care Center, it is easy to see God dwelling within. This last lecture makes the concept of original sin hard to fathom. God would not do that to a baby.

Furthermore, God does not move out as we get older. We back up the U-Haul, load it up and move onward to other seemingly better things. God waits – wondering where he will rest his head – until He has another chance to move back and to walk with us. The Father never stops looking for ways to get back with us. Even if we are not looking for him, He is looking for us.

God wanted us back in his garden (his playground) so much that He sent Jesus to bring us home on the road to Emmaus or Fairfax or Herndon. When that didn’t work, he allowed Jesus to wipe the slate clean and then sent the Holy Spirit to continue teaching and reminding us of all the Jesus preached.

The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name--he will teach you everything and remind you of all that (I) told you.

Jesus’ “last lecture” is now only about half way over. What St. John started to report in Chapter 13 continues through Chapter 16. On top of the important lessons presented in three years of friendship and preaching, Jesus is leaving his disciples and us with a considerable discourse about our life and spiritual journey. He is communicating a lot about Communion.

Only halfway through and we have a lot to comprehend and to distill before we can put it into practice. We know that this is coming just hours before the traumatic events of the Passion will unfold. They have no notebooks. No tape recorders or digital video cameras. No Bibles. Jesus was not using Power Point or visual aids…except for some wine, some bread and a bucket of water for washing their feet. There sit the disciples, sleepy after dinner, and unable to stay awake as Jesus heads to the new Eden to pray.

How in the world will they and we remember it all? We sit hypnotized by Wall Street and K Street and Wilshire Boulevard and Broadway and Madison Avenue. We are Ipoded, cell-phoned, McDonalded, Disneyed, NFLed, Budweisered, and Chevyed to the hilt. It is easy to forget and get lost amidst the tug of war raging for our conscience.

Don’t worry. God will show the way to remember it all by sending another helper, another Advocate. In fact, he already has.


Jesus left us but he left us with his Word. The Holy Spirit comes along to carry us onward. However, gurus of every stripe from every facet of life seek to supplant his Word with their own words. When these clutter our mind, it gets harder and harder for the Gospel to cut through.

What Works on Wall Street. How to Retire Rich. You Have More than You Think. In a recent bookshelf purge, some of the volumes headed to the thrift shop or the white elephant sale included these tomes by James O’Shaughnessy and the Motley Fools David and Tom Gardner. The epigraph from Pericles in front of one of these books reads: “Wait for the wisest of all counselors, Time.”

How true. Too bad I did not heed that advice and wasted my time and money on O’Shaughnessy’s books. Since Bear Stearns collapsed in March of 2008, we have seen the logic of this played out as the value of retirement savings have vanished along with the value of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the Standard and Poor’s Index, home values, the standard of living and more. About the only thing going up these days is the rate of unemployment and the Misery Index. No wonder why these financial gurus call themselves motley fools. Or is it you and I that they are calling motley fools? Either way we still follow their folly.

In fact, recent commercials for one investment firm bid us to follow their plan and the green stripe down the sidewalk instead of falling for temptations like fast cars, fancy vacations and more. Leave your money with them to lose in case you can’t lose it well enough by yourself.

Jesus thinks you can do better just by sticking with his plan instead of the plan you get from Fidelity, Ameriprise or T.D. Ameritrade.

Take a stroll through your bookshelves and make way for the Word. Why not start with purging all those books by wizards who plan to retire rich with your money (since you bought their book) while you still slog through life working longer hours if at all.

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