Thursday, April 21, 2016

Allowing Mercy to Blossom

By Lisa Helene Bacalski

“It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” Acts 14:22b

I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God. Psalm 145:1

The One who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Revelations 21:5A

‘I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’ John 13:33-34

Let this classic song be your prayer:

We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand
We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand
And together we'll spread the news that God is in our land
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love.

When we listen to today’s reading from Acts, it can be easy to take for granted the hard work Paul and Barnabus undertook to proclaim and live Jesus Christ, crucified, died, buried and, most importantly, resurrected. “With prayer and fasting,” yes, along with hours of walking or riding long roads, then hours of conversation and preaching, and then often an almost inevitable conflict with the powers that be in any given city.

In our own time, much energy and conversation within the church revolves around making disciples and re-converting those who have fallen away through the new evangelization. But our understanding of the phrase “to make” is often limited to the intellectual because so few of us are involved in manual labor or in making anything more complicated than a meal. When our King and our God says, “Behold, I make all things new,” do we really understand the immensity of that merciful undertaking? Do dare to imitate it?

Jesus shows us exactly how to do that when he says, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” And how does he love us so radically? By being present with us, fully present, for our good, not His. When he called his disciples and began teaching them, it wasn’t merely with words but also friendship. They knew and trusted him, and thus believed in him.

Today we know and love Jesus through others sharing our journey. This is what makes a Cursillo weekend so powerful; loving one another as we have been loved. This Love is what makes the church triumphant and eternal. This Love is what makes disciples. There is no recipe or instruction manual, just that powerful verb that dares us to always choose another’s good over our own, to offer ourselves as sacrifice, to walk the narrow road together.

Spend time with someone you love, and listen to them with the heart of Jesus. 


Doing His Works

Saturday of the Fourth Week of Easter

“For so the Lord has commanded us, ‘I have made you a light to the Gentiles that you may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.’” The Gentiles were delighted when they heard this and glorified the word of the Lord. All who were destined for eternal life came to believe, and the word of the Lord continued to spread through the whole region. Acts 13:47-49

Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father. And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. John 14:10-13

Take from me, Father, all that keeps me from you.
Give to me, Jesus, all that leads me to you.
Set me free, Holy Spirit, that I might live my life for you.

Seeing is believing.

The reputation of “doubting” Thomas has endured a pretty harsh PR ding throughout history because he was not in the Upper Room when Jesus appeared after the Resurrection. Why was Philip not branded with the same moniker?

Philip’s lack of faith prompts Jesus present us with another wrinkle in the timeless debate over faith and work. Jesus challenges Philip and us to believe (have faith) because he has told them that the Father and he are one. However, he goes on to challenge them that if such faith is not enough, he wants them to believe because of the good works he (Jesus) has been doing on his Father’s behalf.

The debate is not over faith against works. Jesus frames the debate as one in which faith precedes good works.  Good works follows from faith is a requirement. If you have faith, then imitate Christ and do the works that he does.

Major Catholic religious traditions (like the Benedictines) were founded centuries ago and based on prayer and work. Our Cursillo tripod may have been borne out of John 14 where faith and action are merged. However, being Catholic Christians is not just about praying and studying our religious traditions.

Being a Catholic Christian also means putting into practice the works of Jesus by imitating the life of Christ. Just consider one of the prayers we say at the end of the Rosary: “Let us pray. O GOD, whose only begotten Son, by His life, death, and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, grant that by meditating upon the mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.”

We prayer that we might imitate what it contains. Each mystery of the Rosary contains an active story about the life of Jesus.  
How can your life imitate Jesus through sharing in his pain, through doing good works, and through making life easier for others?

Please offer a Rosary or pray the Angelus this weekend for the candidate on the Men’s 132nd Cursillo. 

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