Saturday, May 07, 2016

Leaving the World

[Apollos] had been instructed in the Way of the Lord and, with ardent spirit, spoke and taught accurately about Jesus, although he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue; but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the Way of God more accurately.  Acts 18:25-26

“For the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have come to believe that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world. Now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”  John 16:27-28

Almighty God, we come to you today and give thanks for all our spiritual directors, mentors and teachers. Thank you for the way in which they give of themselves each day, serving and instructing us in the world, in the classroom, in the retreat house and in the sanctuary.  We thank you for them all now as we take their lessons to the streets.

Going forth, fill us with your strength, so that we may rise to every challenge and not grow weary. Fill us with your wisdom, so that we may be able to make good judgment when guiding and helping others. Fill us with your peace, so that when stress and anxiety come, these feelings will not overwhelm us. Fill us with your joy, so that the passion we have may become an infectious passion that spreads. Fill us with your love, oh Lord, and we will sing with joy.  Amen. 

Some of my favorite books and tasks actually need a guide.  If you ever tried to wade into James Joyce’s Ulysses (or even finish it to the very last Molly Bloom “yes”), you would do well to wade in with a copy of James Joyce's Ulysses: A Study by Stuart Gilbert. If you want to enjoy more than just the narrative motorcycle trip story in Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, pack a copy of the Guidebook to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Ron Di Santo in your Harley saddle bags. The quest of a humble English major is made a little lighter if you keep a few trusty resources at your side…the Holman Handbook to LiteratureThe Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White.  The Hodges Harbrace Handbook (I understand it is up to the 18th edition.  I think it was in the 7th edition while I was an undergrad – and Hodges was not a titled partner.). 

From Alice in Wonderland to Sherlock Holmes, from Grateful Dead Lyrics to the Mona Lisa, going in with a companion helps you along the journey.  Whether walking the streets of Rome or Florence with a Rick Steve’s guidebook or deciphering the Internet with Google, going it alone with the self-reliance of Emerson might leave you dazed and confused.

Frankly, I would not even tune up my car without a trusty, smudged Chilton guide on the fender propping up my timing light (3 degrees BTDC?).  I would not attempt to use a new digital device without a David Pogue guide or camera manual. And these are easy tasks.  Imagine needing a guidebook for life in general or eternal life?!

Jesus knew that his message would be harder than learning to use a new iPhone or quitting a bad habit like smoking.  To overcome resistance to the message, he used parables, metaphors and other figures of speech to help people understand his message better.  But at some point, he decided that it was no longer well enough for his students to hug the shore with a sailing school coach.  They had to trim the sails and head out to sea to see. Jesus makes that pivot in today’s Good News. 

Apollos also needed such a teacher.  He knew the story.  However, Priscilla and Aquila helped him know the story deeper and better.  (Maybe that’s why we call defending the faith apologetics?) 

Salvador Dali, Meeting of Dante and Beatrice
Any connection of Apollos and apologetics is purely coincidental.  Apologetics is the branch of Christianity that deals with the defense and establishment of the Christian faith. Christian Apologetics is something every true believer should be involved in even if it is only a little.  As Saint Paul reminded Peter in his letter to the later: 

Now who is going to harm you if you are enthusiastic about what is good? But even if you should suffer because of righteousness, blessed are you. Do not be afraid or terrified with fear of them, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame.  1 Peter 3:13-16

Even Dante needed a guide when he descended into the Inferno.  Who is your Beatrice – your guide and teacher, mentor and spiritual director? If you have one, schedule your next meeting.  If not, start to look for a spiritual director on the pages of the Cursillo website (  

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