Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Keep Them from the Evil One

Wednesday of the Seventh Week of Easter

By Colleen O’Sullivan

At Miletus, Paul spoke to the presbyters of the Church of Ephesus:  “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock.  And from your own group, men will come forward perverting the truth to draw the disciples away after them…  And now I commend you to God and to that gracious word of his that can build you up and give you the inheritance among all who are consecrated”…  When he had finished speaking, he knelt down and prayed with them all.  (Acts 20:29-30, 32, 36)

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed, saying:  “Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one…  I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the Evil One.   (John 17: 11b, 15)

O Lord, make me ever vigilant against the enemy, even when it bears a terrible likeness to myself.

Today’s Scripture readings consist of two farewell messages.  Paul is taking leave of his friends at Ephesus and Jesus is preparing his disciples for his imminent suffering and death.  Both of them pray for their friends, Paul for strength for hard times ahead and Jesus that his friends be one with his Father and for protection for them against the Evil One.

As I was thinking about the Church today and her enemies, I thought how nice it would be if they always came packaged as wolves.  We’d recognize them straight away and know to fight them off!  But the Evil Spirit is too clever for that.  As I look about the Church, I wonder if maybe the Evil Spirit is disguised as complacency.   In my parish, Sunday Mass used to be standing-room only, but over the last 18 years, there have come to be more and more empty seats.  My parish is not an anomaly; this is the trend across the Church in the U.S.  What bothers me is how few people seem concerned about this, let alone actively trying to do anything about it.

Jesus and Paul were never complacent about their faith.  Jesus spent his entire public ministry going from village to village and town to town, sharing what he received from his Father.  Paul traveled tirelessly, founding new churches and then writing letters to these young churches in between journeys.  Both men knew that to be a sower of the Word, you have to go out into the fields.  The fields never come to you.

In Cursillo, the way we express that is:  Make a friend.  Be a friend.  Bring a friend to Christ.  There’s nothing in that that implies we should sit at home or at church and wait to be approached.  There’s everything that urges us to be tireless in spreading the Good News.

What one action could you take this week to make a friend, be a friend, or bring a friend to Christ?

An excellent book that my Cursillo group is reading on the topic is Forming Intentional Disciples by Sherry A. Weddell.   I wish it were required reading for every person in every pew in every church.

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