Sunday, May 21, 2017

Opened Heart

[A] woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth, from the city of Thyatira, a worshiper of God, listened, and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what Paul was saying. After she and her household had been baptized, she offered us an invitation, "If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my home," and she prevailed on us. Acts 16:14-15

"When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me. And you also testify because you have been with me from the beginning. John 15:26-27

O God, in the original Exodus, you led the children of Israel through the dry bed of the Red Sea; You led Joseph and Mary to a safe crib in Bethlehem and pointed out a star to the Magi that led them on the road to the Baby Jesu. Just as you led the Holy Family safely to Egypt, grant us a New Exodus journey with similar promise so that, under your guidance, we may safely reach that journey's end after fulfilling your will. Bless our journeys and journeyings with your ever-present Mercy and plentiful Good Samaritans along the way as insurance against all danger. Amen.

Travel narratives are the bedrock of literary development and the bane of students who must endure required classes in literature everywhere.

Without the Iliad and the Odyssey, we might not consider Greek literature. Without the Canterbury Tales, English literature would have gotten a different start. Without Herman Melville’s or Mark Twain’s travel narratives, American literature would not be the same – indeed, these works (and others too numerous to mention) helped to define the very thought of an American cultural experience like the others defined the development of Greek and English traditions.

Into this mix, we also can consider the works of Luke (Gospel and Acts), as works which define the emerging Christian Church as well as tell of the travels and travails of the disciples with Jesus and after Jesus. The journeys of Philip, Peter, and Paul form the framework of the book of Acts. In these travels and the works performed, we see the fulfillment of the Scriptural promises encountered in the writings of Luke and Mark, and to a lesser extent, Matthew and John. Successes of the early church cannot be isolated. Like the conversion of Lydia, these also can be attributed to the strength and other gifts brought down by the holy Spirit – sent from the Father at the request of the Son. In fact, without the Father and Son, the Spirit would not have context or being.

When Lydia “opened her heart,” she was doing it voluntarily of her free will. However, her will was not separated from the community of believers touched by the Apostles nor from the will of Jesus, the one who sent him or the one he sent.

The Spirit did not come upon the earth without proceeding from the Father and Son. If Exodus follows Genesis, then Acts of the Apostles is the New Exodus that follows from the Good News of the New Genesis in the gospels.

If the travel narrative helps to define the church as an institution, then what is the travel narrative of your faith story?

My Baptism took place at Our Lady of Pity Church on Staten Island, NY. My faith grew and was confirmed as a member of the community at St. Mary, Mother of God Church in New Monmouth, NJ; Belmont Abbey College, and St. Mary of Sorrows and the many communities of my adult years. That is why (IMHO) we make sure we put the travel narrative of our journey into context when we introduce ourselves at a Cursillo event with our name, our parish, and when our Cursillo experience began. 

The Spirit also has been with us from the beginning. Where are we headed next? 

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