Saturday, May 31, 2014

Life is Sharing

May 31: Feast of the Visitation instead of Saturday of the 6th week of Easter
A thought for those who want to reveal the risen Jesus in their lifestyle.
Zephaniah 3:14-18 or Romans 12:9-16; Canticle: Isaiah 12:2-3, 4, 5-6; Luke 1:39-56

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord” Luke 1:46

Every Christian knows and can say, “ The Almighty has done great things for me.” But how many proclaim it?

Pope Francis wrote in The Joy of the Gospel:

9. Goodness always tends to spread. Every authentic experience of truth and goodness seeks by its very nature to grow within us…
10. Life grows by being given away… Those who enjoy life most are those who become excited by the mission of communicating life to others. When the Church summons Christians to take up the task of evangelization, she is simply pointing to the source of authentic personal fulfillment. For “here we discover a profound law of reality: that life is attained and matures in the measure that it is offered up in order to give life to others.”

If we are not talking about the Good News with others, we have to wonder whether we have really heard it ourselves. Announcing the Good News is not just something Christians do; it is something we are. At Baptism we were anointed—consecrated by God—to continue Christ’s mission as prophets, priests and stewards of the kingship of Christ. If we fail to do what we can, we fail to be what we are. But in doing what we are empowered to do, we experience “life to the full.”

PRAY: “Lord, act with me, act in me, act through me.”

PRACTICE: Share with others your experience of Christ.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Joy Reveals Values

May 30 Friday of the 6th week of Easter:
A thought for those who want to reveal the risen Jesus in their lifestyle.

Acts 18:9-18; Psalm 47:2-3, 4-5, 6-7; John 16:20-23

“You will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices.” Acts 16:20

Christians bear witness to the values of Jesus by what they rejoice in and mourn over.

The “world” of secular culture rejoices over victories in war—which amounts to dancing on the bodies of the dead. The “world” rejoices when criminals are executed—while the Father weeps for his children. The “world” rejoices in prosperity—closing its eyes to the plight of the poor. The “world” rejoices in social acceptance, in exclusive neighborhoods and clubs, oblivious to the rejected and excluded.  The “world” rejoices in winning, forgetting that “winners” are alw
ays matched by “losers.” The list goes on.

Except for the first two, none of the above is evil. But none should be accepted without some visible regret. Christians see with both eyes; the “world” only with one.

The same is true of mourning: “When a woman has given birth, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world.” When Jesus rose from the dead, he saw the pain of his crucifixion as joy. When the apostles were flogged for proclaiming Jesus, they “rejoiced that they were considered worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name” (Acts 5:41). There are two sides to both joy and pain. The “prophets” see both.

And express what they see.

PRAY: “Lord, open my mind, and I will proclaim your truth.”

PRACTICE: Open both of your eyes.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Faith is Joy

May 29 Thursday of the 6th week of Easter: A thought for those who want to reveal the risen Jesus in their lifestyle.
Acts 18:1-8; Psalm 98:1, 2-3, 3-4; John 16:16-20

“You will grieve, but your grief will become joy.” Acts 16:20.

There are times when we don’t feel close to God—or that God is close to us. But these are just feelings. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.” If we keep believing this when we don’t feel it, we grow into pure faith, hope and love. And into greater joy—if we just persevere.

We also “grieve” when people don’t accept our witness. The Jews in Corinth rejected Paul. He decided, “From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” Their overwhelming response led to greater joy.

Christians always rejoice—because of what we see by faith. And because we “abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” And “hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us” (Romans 5:5; 15:13). Where there is love there is life. “Love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7).

No matter how we feel from day to day, we always count on Christ’s promise: “A little while and you will see me.”

PRAY: “My soul waits for the Lord; my heart is glad, because I trust in his holy name” (Psalm 33).

PRACTICE: Believe in love, not your feelings.

Expanding Light

May 28 Wednesday of the 6th week of Easter
A thought for those who want to reveal the risen Jesus in their lifestyle.

Acts 17:15, 22 to 18:1; Psalm 148:1-2, 11-12, 13, 14; John 16:12-15

“God has overlooked the times of ignorance.” Acts 17:30

Paul said God “overlooked” the Athenians’ limited knowledge of God. The implication was that if they did not accept the truth preached to them now he would not overlook it.

We are all Athenians, worshiping an “Unknown God.” God is Infinite Truth. No matter how much we know, even by the divine gift of faith, our human understanding of it is always limited. True, God has “called us out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). But we are still confined in a small prison of light if we don’t let God keep expanding the walls.

Jesus is constantly saying, “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.” Our cultural conditioning—even our Catholic culture—closes us to some truth in every age. But Jesus promises, “When he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.”

He will keep coming, and keep guiding until the end of time. Pope Francis said (America Magazine, September 30, 2013):

If one has the answers to all the questions, that is proof God is not with him... Human self-understanding changes with time… So we grow in the understanding of the truth …. The view of the church’s teaching as a monolith to defend without nuance or different understandings is wrong.

PRAY: “Lord, by the light of the Holy Spirit, instruct the hearts of your faithful.”

PRACTICE: Open your mind to more truth.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Enfleshed Spirit

May 27 Tuesday of the 6th week of Easter
A thought for those who want to reveal the risen Jesus in their lifestyle.

Acts 16:22-34; Psalm 138:1-2, 2-3, 7-8; John 16:5-11

“I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go.” John 16:7

Jesus had to die so he could rise in us—multiplied and visible by the witness of the Spirit.

Who would see “sin” in not believing in a man who lived two thousand years ago, known only by scriptures written to present a mystery—the whole truth of his sojourn on earth—instead of just historical details? But if that mystery is made flesh in living people today it “convicts the world of sin, because they do not believe.”

If only Jesus was super-humanly good, that challenges no one. But if, after Jesus has “returned to the Father,” we see others living on his level of love, we have no excuse not to embrace his New Law.

Had Jesus not been defeated by evil as visibly as anyone, and just as visibly triumphed, a sense of hopelessness about human life might be justified. But all around us we see people enlightened by faith to accept him as the Truth, empowered by hope to follow him as the Way, enthused by love (from the Greek en, “in,” and theos, “god”—caught up in God) to experience him as the Life.

The Holy Spirit, visibly enlightening, empowering and enthusing us, convicts unbelief by our faith, merely human morality by our hope, and negativity toward the world by our love.

PRAY: “Lord, let your Spirit act in me.”

PRACTICE: Be conscious of the Spirit in you.

Monday, May 26, 2014


May 26 Monday of the 6th week of Easter: A thought for those who want to reveal the risen Jesus in their lifestyle.
Acts 16:11-15; Psalm 149:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 9; John 15:26-16:4

“They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me.” John 16:3

Distorted Catholic teaching and mediocre Christian living can “conceal rather than reveal the authentic face of God and of religion.” And so “Christ summons the Church… to that continual reformation of which, as a human institution, she always has need here on earth.” People turn against the Church because they don’t know her. “Comparing the ideal image of the Church as Christ envisaged her, and the actual image which the Church presents to the world today... is the source of the Church’s struggle to correct those flaws introduced by her members” (Francis quoting Paul VI, The Joy of the Gospel 26; Vatican Council II, “The Church in the Modern World” 19, “Decree on Ecumenism” 6).

We have to cross-examine—examine by the cross— the witnesses who claim to speak for Jesus and the Church. If Christians are not visibly at cross-purposes with much in contemporary culture, we need to cross them out as witnesses; with those who love wealth and prestige, and to be called by honorific titles (Matthew 23:6). Pope Francis is giving prophetic leadership in rejecting all this, but his leadership, without insistent support from the laity, will be short-lived.

Jesus gives hope: “The Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, will testify to me.” And challenge: “And you also will testify.”

PRAY: “Lord, forgive us; we know not what we do.”

PRACTICE: Speak out against ecclesiastical affluence and prestige.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Give the Spirit

May 25 The 6th Sunday of Easter
A thought for those who want to reveal the risen Jesus in their lifestyle.
Acts 8:5-8, 14-17; Psalm 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 20; 1 Peter 3:15-18; John 14:15-21

“I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always.” John 14:16

After the laity brought Samaritans into the Church and baptized them, the Apostles Peter and John went down, “laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.”

Christian life is not complete without the “Gift of the Holy Spirit.” This gift empowers us to live a lifestyle that raises questions, that can only be explained by faith giving us obvious hope in the promises of Jesus. Peter wrote: “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.” If nobody asks us, we have to wonder whether we’re witnesses.

A prophetic lifestyle raises eyebrows, is not “normal” by society’s norms. Prophets don’t “fit in” with their peer group. They reveal new ways of thinking and acting that are news—the Good News for those who recognize truth and goodness. When we find ourselves doing this, we experience the gift—the empowerment—of the Holy Spirit.

When someone dislikes us because we are good, that is not bad. It can shock us both into getting better.

Jesus said the “world” cannot accept the Spirit of truth, “because it neither sees nor knows him.” But if people see the Spirit in us, it can make a world of difference.

PRAY: “Lord, show your Spirit in my flesh. Renew the face of the earth.”

PRACTICE: Ask questions whose answers raise questions.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Growing words

May 24 Saturday of the 5th week of Easter
A thought for those who want to reveal the risen Jesus in their lifestyle.

Acts 16:1-10; Psalm 100:1-2, 3, 5; John 15:18-21

“If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.” John 15:20

Jesus gave three reasons (Matthew 13:3) why the seed of his word does not bear fruit.

The first is that his words fall on the "beaten path" of social conformity. They never penetrate, because we interpret what Christ says by what Christians do instead of measuring what Christians do by what Christ says.

"By their fruits you shall know them." But if we assume to begin with that the fruit most common on the market must be good fruit, we have only mediocrity to judge by. By uncritically accepting mediocre Christianity as authentic, we rule out any radical invitation from Jesus. We accept the half blind as guides.

The second reason is that Christ’s words fall on rocky ground that has no depth. We do not reflect on his words long enough to let them take root in decisions. No truth is a part of us until we make it our own by choices.

The third reason is that “weeds”—whatever is in conflict with the goals and values of Jesus—choke out our response before it can bear fruit. Clarity of mind is obscured by attachments of the heart. When we seek truth from Jesus as disciples, the obstacle to prophetic insight is in the heart, not the head. To see, we need to act.

PRAY: “Create a clean heart in me, O God.”

PRACTICE: Think about Sunday’s Mass readings until they generate a choice.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Union in Spirit

May 23 Friday of the 5th week of Easter
A thought for those who want to reveal the risen Jesus in their lifestyle.

Acts 15:15-31; Psalm 57:8-9, 10, 12; John 15:12-17

“It has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to impose on you no further burden than these essentials.” Acts 15:28

When “the apostles and elders” decided not to impose Jewish rules on Gentile converts, the Church became conscious of herself as “catholic.” Christianity passed from a Jewish cultural religion into a faith spread “throughout the whole”—kata-holos—of humanity. The Spirit enfleshed in the laws and customs of the Chosen People was released to find expression in the laws and customs of every people—raised to a new level of light and love.

Christianity is not a determined way of life; it is a life that determines many ways. The key to Christianity is being guided from within by the Holy Spirit.

This is what Jesus meant when he said, “I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.” Slaves just take orders; friends follow principles. It is the difference between blind obedience and informed intentionality. Slaves read the letter; prophets realize the purpose of the law. Often that purpose can be achieved in many different ways.

Being a prophet is less a concern about finding the “right answers” than a commitment to ask the right questions—and let the Spirit answer.

PRAY: “Send forth your Spirit, and our hearts will be regenerated.”

PRACTICE: Seek unity in diversity.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Love is Witness

May 22 Thursday of the 5th week of Easter
A thought for those who want to reveal the risen Jesus in their lifestyle.
Acts 15:7-21; Psalm 96:1-2, 2-3, 10; John 15:9-11

“God, who knows the heart, bore witness by granting them the Holy Spirit.” Acts 15:8

Jesus said, “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love.” What are his commandments?

Saint John Paul II tells us: "Following Christ is the essential and primordial foundation of Christian morality.... Jesus' way of acting and his words, his deeds and his precepts constitute the moral rule of Christian life" (Splendor of Truth, 19-20).

To “keep Christ’s commandments” means we never ask again just whether something is right or wrong, but whether it bears witness to Jesus Christ. Does it reflect express, make visible “Jesus' way of acting, his words and his deeds”? This is what it means to live out our baptismal anointing as prophets.

This is a commitment to continuing “conversion.” In real language, this means a commitment to constant change of lifestyle and behavior. The commitment to change says what we will do. The commitment to bear witness says how we will do it. What we will do is keep changing; how we will do it is by evaluating everything in our life and lifestyle in the light of how it makes visible the teaching and example of Jesus Christ

The commitment to keep changing gets us moving; the commitment to bear witness gives us direction. Together, they turn our lifestyle into prophetic witness.

PRAY: “Lord, act with me, act in me, act through me.”

PRACTICE: Keep making changes in your lifestyle.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Laws or Life?

May 21 Wednesday of the 5th week of Easter
A thought for those who want to reveal the risen Jesus in their lifestyle.
Acts 15:1-16; Psalm 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5; John 15:1-8

“Every branch that bears fruit he prunes so that it bears more fruit.” John 15:2

The basic division in the Church has always been between the prophets and the Pharisees; between those open to change and those who cling to the “traditions of their ancestors” (see Matthew 15:2; Galatians 1:14); between those who focus on laws and those who follow the Spirit.
When Paul and Barnabas told about the conversion of the Gentiles, it “brought great joy to all the brethren”—except for “some from the party o
f the Pharisees.” who stood up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and direct them to observe the Mosaic law.”

In every age the “Pharisee party” in the Church ignores the fruit of the Spirit and focuses on rigid conformity to rules. Pope Francis condemns this as the “spiritual worldliness” of those who “feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past.” Their “supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline” leads them to judge others “instead of opening the door to grace.” He says they are “not really concerned about Jesus Christ or others” (The Joy of the Gospel, 94).

Jesus identifies life with growth, fidelity with fruitfulness, and both with living consciously in union with his heart. “Remain in me, as I remain in you.”

PRAY: “Lord, teach me your heart.”

PRACTICE: Try to recognize prophets. “You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16).

Managing Fear

May 20 Tuesday of the 5th week of Easter
A thought for those who want to reveal the risen Jesus in their lifestyle.
Acts 14:19-28; Psalm 145:10-11, 12-13, 21; John 14:27-31

Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.John 14:27

Proclaiming the Good News is not always safe. “They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead.” And that wasn’t all. He lists “imprisonments, countless floggings… danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers and sisters…” (2 Corinthians 11:23). Not everyone liked the Good News.

That is still true today. Many people do not like prophets challenging them to make personal decisions about religion. If they just do what the law says, they don’t have to think about it. That gives them a sense of security they think they will lose if they interact personally with God. When that security is threatened, they can turn vicious.

Jesus was killed for calling Jews to go beyond Jewish law. Catholics persecute Catholics who call them beyond Catholic cultural conformity. Jesus said, “Servants are not greater than their master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you.” But his bottom line is always, “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”

The way we die to fears is simply to act against them. The emotions don't go away. But if we choose to act as if they did not exist, we will free ourselves to live.

PRAY: “Lord, be my strength.”

PRACTICE: When afraid, say, “Lord, do this with me, do this in me, do this through me.”

Monday, May 19, 2014

Wake-up calls

May 19 Monday of the 5th week of Easter: A thought for those who want to reveal the risen Jesus in their lifestyle.
Acts 14:5-18; Psalm 115:1-2, 3-4, 15-16; John 14:21-26

“The Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name will remind you of all that I told you.” John 14:26

The Church has kept intact the “deposit of faith”—the teaching of the Apostles—for two thousand years. But she does not actively teach all of it all the time.

There are some teachings she just doesn’t focus on, Catholic beliefs that in practice bishops and preachers ignore. There are doctrines that approved theologians distort by failing to see them in relationship to others. And there are truths the Church has proclaimed and later forgotten about.

What the Church does not say has as much influence on our lives as what she does say. The most dangerous laws are often the unwritten ones which proclaim by their absence that something is permissible when it is not.

At different times official (but non-infallible) Church teaching has justified slavery and racial discrimination, denied freedom of conscience, encouraged torture and execution of heretics, forbidden then allowed soldiers to fight in wars, accepted then condemned the death penalty. To this day some teachers and preachers blaspheme the love of the Father by what they confidently identify as “mortal sin” and dogmatically declare that God will punish for all eternity in Hell.

That is why we need prophets inspired by the Holy Spirit to “remind us.”

O God, by the light of the Holy Spirit instruct the hearts of your faithful.”

PRACTICE: Distinguish between dogmatic teachers and dogma.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

One With the Many

May 18 5th Sunday of Easter
A thought for those who want to reveal the risen Jesus in their lifestyle.
Acts 6:1-7; Psalm 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19; 1 Peter 2:4-9; John 14:1-2

“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” 1 Peter 2:7

Christians are “like living stones,” being “built into a spiritual house.” This means:

1. We have to be “living stones,” alive with the life of God. This is our identity as Christians.

2. We are being formed. We are not yet a finished product, but as disciples are learning, growing spiritually as part of a structured community, a “spiritual house.”

3. We know we are prophets when, like Christ, we are “rejected by the builders.” The prophets suffer resistance and rejection by their peer groups, packaged with persecution by those in power—sometimes even by the hierarchy, who tend to see their role as that of stabilizing authority, not of groundbreaking prophecy. It is natural they sometimes see prophets as a threat.

Regardless, true prophets never separate from the Church. As conscious members of “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,” they continue to “promote the body’s growth in building itself up in love” (Ephesians 4:16). The only authentic Spirit is the Spirit of love.

Pope Francis compares the Holy Spirit to Babel: he causes division in the Church by inspiring prophetic innovations, but also creates unity through harmony (Genesis, 11:1-9; Andrea Tornielli, Francis, p.140).

When faith appears to divide, hope holds us together until love unites us.

PRAY: “Come, Holy Spirit, kindle in us the fire of your divine love.”

PRACTICE: Be yourself—as identified dynamically with others.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

We Are the Dawn

May 17 Saturday of the 4th week of Easter
A thought for those who want to reveal the risen Jesus in their lifestyle.
Acts 13:44-52; Psalm 98:1, 2-3-4; John 14:7-14

“The Father who dwells in me is doing his works... Whoever believes in me will do the works that I do.” John 14:10

Jesus claimed his actions revealed that the Father was in him, acting through him. He proclaimed that our actions should reveal Jesus present in us, acting through us.

Jesus was divine, so his actions were divine. By grace we are divine, so our actions should be divine. Christ’s New Law is a set of guidelines—principles—for living on the level of God. Christian morality begins where the Ten Commandments leave off.

Christians are called to give a new response to the needs of our times: a divine response; the response of Jesus risen from the dead and living in us.

Christians are called to create the future by responding to the present in the light of a past that is “ever ancient, ever new”: the “everlasting light” of Christ—the “same yesterday and today and forever”— that nevertheless shines as the “rising dawn” with new colors every day (Confessions of Saint Augustine, X; Isaiah 60:20; Hebrews 13:8; Luke 1:78). Christ’s message is always news, always Good News awakening us to new life.

By our baptismal anointing as prophets we are committed to be the dawn of each new day. “Let your light shine… and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

PRAY: “Lord, send forth your Spirit. Renew the face of the earth.”

PRACTICE: Reveal Jesus as new and the same in you.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Creative Following

May 16 Friday of the 4th week of Easter
A thought for those who want to reveal the risen Jesus in their lifestyle.
Acts 13:26-33; Psalm 2:6-7, 8-9, 10-11; John 14:1-6

“You know the way… I am the way.” John 14:4

Christianity was first called “the Way.” It was not defined by rules but guided by principles. A principle is “that from which something begins” (Aristotle).

A moral principle is a statement from which moral reflection begins. Too often, rules end thought by telling us what to do. A principle requires us to think, to decide for ourselves what these words call us to do in concrete circumstances. An authentic Christian is a “prophet” who takes the general, abstract principles of the Gospel and applies them creatively to the concrete circumstances of a given time and place. And those principles are drawn from the words and example of Jesus.

Jesus is the Way. The New Law is God’s truth embodied in his life. In the Church, before the principles of the Gospel can be simplified in laws, they have to be seen embodied in lives of prophetic witness. Prophets lead the Church into the future by embodying the future in their lives. The prophets lead; the Church follows.

To be prophets we have to die to fear, beginning with the fear of standing alone. The “beaten path” obscures the footsteps of Jesus. To follow Jesus as the Way, we have to give up the security of the beaten path. We have to think before we act; think for ourselves.

PRAY: “Lord, let me think with your thoughts.”

PRACTICE: Always look for the footsteps of Jesus.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Law of Love

May 15 Thursday of the 4th week of Easter
A thought for those who want to reveal the risen Jesus in their lifestyle.

Acts 13:13-25; Psalm 89:2-3, 21-22, 25, 27; John 13:16-20

“I have found… a man after my own heart; he will carry out my every wish.” Acts 13:22

David broke God’s law. He sinned very badly. But in his heart he desired to be faithful, not just to God’s laws, but to God himself; to carry out God’s “every wish.” And God judged him by his heart, not just by his behavior.

It is impossible to translate the New Law of Jesus into laws. Read Matthew, chapters 5 to 7, and you will see that Jesus gives guidelines for thinking like God, embracing the ideals of God, seeing people and things as God does. When he translates those into action, he gives examples too far-fetched to make into laws. He wants us to be people “after his own heart,” who will try in everything to live on the level of God. The New Law is simply “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Law-observers steer by the channel markers of the Ten Commandments; their course is to keep within bounds. Prophets steer by the fixed star that is Jesus Christ; their course is to direct their lives toward him. They have to navigate.

Prophets have the courage to apply principles creatively; to discern, to make personal decisions and choices. To do this they need to know the heart of God.

PRAY: “Lord, give me your Spirit, so that I can do your will.”

PRACTICE: In doubt, try following your heart. Learn God’s heart by experience.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

His Visible Presence

May 14 St Matthias, Apostle (instead of Wednesday of the 4th week of Easter): 
A thought for those who want to reveal the risen Jesus in their lifestyle.

Acts 1:15-17,20-26; Psalm 113:1-2,3-4,5-6,7-8; John 15:9-17

“A witness to his resurrection.” Acts 1:22

Peter said the “replacement apostle” had to be one who “accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us.” Only someone who knew Jesus could testify it was truly he who rose from the dead. And for us to reveal Jesus authentically as risen and acting in us today, we have to know how he thinks, speaks, and deals with people and events. To bear witness as prophets, we have to know Jesus—be “disciples,” students of his heart.

Bearing witness as a prophet is Phase Three of our growth into maturity as the body of Christ. Phase Two is committed discipleship. Phase One is cultivating awareness of the mystery of our identity. Through Baptism we “became Christ.” That is something to absorb.

As Christ’s body we are committed to making Jesus Christ a part of everything we do. We are prophets when we act visibly as the body of Christ, the Word of God made flesh. In us the words of Jesus are made flesh in action when we embody them visibly in our lifestyle. Christian witness is to live visibly in such a way that our life reveals the presence of the risen Jesus in us.

PRAY and PRACTICE: Form the habit of saying the “WIT prayer” all day: “Lord, do this with me, do this in me, do this through me.” Find ways to remind yourself to do it.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Be Christ

May 13 Tuesday of the 4th week of Easter: A thought for those who want to reveal the risen Jesus in their lifestyle.
Acts 11:19-28; Psalm 87:1-3,4-5,6-7; John 10:22-32

“My Father… has given them to me.” Acts 11:12

People only listen to prophets because they believe Jesus is speaking in them. “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

Prophets only dare to speak because they believe the Father has given them to Jesus. “My Father… has given them to me... The Father and I are one.”

It is all about Jesus: being his body on earth, following his Spirit, asking him to act with us, in us and through us in everything we do.

“Lord, let me think with your thoughts, speak with your words, and act as your body on earth.”

This is what it is to be a prophet. It is the vocation of every Christian anointed at Baptism with the words, “As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet and King, so live as a member of his body.” We are all “prophets in the Prophet,” anointed to continue his mission.

The persecuted Christians who fled from Jerusalem were laity, not ordained priests. But they were “preaching the word” and “proclaiming the Lord Jesus” to Jews and Greeks. And “the hand of the Lord was with them and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.”

We are all prophets— sent to proclaim Jesus.

PRAY: “Lord, let me think with your thoughts and speak with your words, and act as your body on earth.”

PRACTICE: Try to make everything you say and do proclaim in some way the Good News.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Listen and Decide

May 12 Monday of the 4th week of Easter
A thought for those who want to reveal the risen Jesus in their lifestyle.

Acts 11:1-18; Psalm 42:2-3; 43:3, 4; John 10:11-18

“The Spirit told me to accompany them without discriminating.” Acts 11:12

To bear prophetic witness to Christ, we have to give up our fear of making personal decisions. Peter accepted non-Jews into the Church before the Christians knew there was any community to belong to except Israel. Jesus’ New Law did not abolish the Jewish rules and practices, so Christians kept them all—until Peter baptized uncircumcised Gentiles who ate “unclean” food and knew nothing of the Temple or the Sabbath. It is a wonder the Christians themselves didn’t stone him!

Peter explained, “The Spirit told me to accompany them without discriminating… the Holy Spirit fell upon them as it had upon us at the beginning… God gave them the same gift he gave to us… Who was I to hinder God?”

Because Peter had the courage to believe in and follow God’s voice in his heart, he took the Church in a new direction. Prophets don’t foretell the future; they create it. Without the prophets we stagnate.

We are all anointed as prophets. If we are afraid to make personal decisions, afraid to stand alone, we will stagnate with others “in darkness and in the shadow of death.” If we dare to set out alone—with God—others will follow.

PRAY: “Send forth your Spirit. Our hearts will be regenerated. And you will renew the face of the earth.”

PRACTICE: Make a list of things you do as a Christian that come from your personal decisions.

Use the Gift

May 11 4th Sunday of Easter
A thought for those who want to reveal the risen Jesus in their lifestyle.

Acts 2:14,36-41; Psalm 23:1-3-4,5,6; 1 Peter 2:20-25; John 10:1-10

“Be baptized… and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38

Baptism gives the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit empowers us to share in the mission of Christ. Jesus “calls his own sheep by name” as he called by name the twelve apostles whom he “sent out” to proclaim the Good News (Matthew 10:1-7). And the sheep respond, “because they recognize his voice.”

We were not baptized to stand around safe in the sheepfold. Pope Francis wrote in The Joy of the Gospel, “the missionary outreach [salida] is the model for all the Church’s activity. We cannot passively and calmly wait in our church buildings; we need to move from a ministry of mere conservation to a decidedly missionary pastoral ministry.” This calls for a major change of attitude in pastors and individual members of every parish.

We were all consecrated as prophets at Baptism and empowered by the Gift of the Holy Spirit to bear witness to the Good News. But nothing is really part of us until we make it our own by choices. To become a prophet in action means to begin looking systematically into every element and expression of our lifestyle, asking about each one: "How does this—or how could this—bear witness to the teaching of Jesus Christ?” To do this is to answer Christ’s call.

PRAY: “Lord, make me a witness to your truth.”

PRACTICE: Change one thing in your lifestyle to reflect Christ’s values.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

To Faith Through Life

May 10 Saturday of the 3rd week of Easter

A thought for those who want to bear prophetic witness through lifestyle

Acts 9:31-42; Psalm 116:12-13, 14-15, 16-17; John 6:60-69

“It is the spirit that gives life... The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life.” John 6:63

We don’t believe in Jesus because we accept the Bible; we believe in the Bible because we accept Jesus. Many of Jesus’ disciples said, “His teaching is hard; who can accept it?” But Peter said, “To whom (not to what) shall we go? We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” Because we know Jesus we say with Peter, “You have the words of eternal life.” Christianity is a loving, trusting relationship with the person of Jesus. Everything else follows from that.

What is our love, hope and faith in Christ’s words based on? Jesus said it comes from the experience of a new life given by the Father through the gift of the Holy Spirit. “It is the spirit that gives life....” The words he speaks are credible to us because when we live them, we experience Spirit and life. If we don’t live by them, we don’t experience the Spirit, and our faith is dead (see James 2:14-26; Matthew 7:27). So we look for Christ, and we find Christ, through living by his words.

Church growth depends on “the consolation of the Holy Spirit.”

PRAY: “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful. And enkindle in us the fire of your love.”

PRACTICE: Where you don’t experience faith, live faith and you will experience it.

Quest-(ion)-ing for Answers

May 9 Friday of the 3rd week of Easter
A thought for those who want to bear prophetic witness through lifestyle

Acts 9:1-20; Psalm 117:1,2; John 6:52-59

“…that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit…” Act 9:17

Before Saul (Paul) was struck blind, he thought he could see. Big mistake. Jesus showed him he was blind by asking, “Why are you persecuting me?…” If Saul couldn’t see Christ in the Christians, he wasn’t seeing clearly. Jesus blinded him physically to teach him he was spiritually blind unless he saw by the light of the Holy Spirit.

It is a blessing to know we don’t see clearly. Jesus said to the Pharisees, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind” (John 9:39). Through the “prophets” Jesus keeps enlightening those who are open because they know they don’t see everything, and exposing the blindness of those who think they know it all.

Pope Francis wrote in his book On Heaven and Earth: “My hope in God is in the quest, in allowing myself to search… The great leaders of the people of God were men who left room for doubt….”

Faith that questions opens us to the living God, whose truth is infinite. Faith without questions encloses us in the narrowness of our own minds. This holds for unbelievers too. Someone said, “For an agnostic, a doubt would be a mystical experience!”

PRAY: “Lord, by the light of the Holy Spirit, instruct the hearts of those who believe.”

PRACTICE: Keep questing by questioning.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Light in the Darkness

May 8 Thursday of the 3rd week of Easter
A thought for those who want to bear prophetic witness through lifestyle
Acts 8:26-40; Psalm 66:8-9, 16-17, 20; John 6:4-51

“Bless our God, you peoples, loudly sound his praise;  Psalm 66:8
He has given life to our souls,.”

The proof that God “has given life to our souls” is that we show it in our actions. When we speak in a way that doesn’t make sense without the enlightenment of faith, we reveal the light of God in us. When we act in a way that is impossible—for us, at least —without the empowerment of grace, we reveal the life of Christ in us. And when we do things that cannot be explained without God’s inspiration, like Philip running up to the chariot, we know we are listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit—especially when obvious good comes from it.

Philip could explain the Scripture passage the court official was reading, because he knew that Jesus saved the world by accepting death on the cross. Once one understands the mystery of Christ’s life, death and resurrection, a lot of other things cease to be mysteries. Death, for example; and suffering; and why so many powerful people seem to get away with murder.

Philip had the key to it: “Beginning with the Scripture passage, he proclaimed Jesus to him.” If we understand the mystery of Jesus, we can say with credibility,  “Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.

PRAY: ““Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.

PRACTICE: Live in a way that raises questions and answers them.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Seeing is Believing

May 7 Wednesday of the 3rd week of Easter
A thought for those who want to bear prophetic witness through lifestyle

Acts 8:1-8; Psalm 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7; John 6:35-40

“Everyone who sees the Son and believes in him...” John 6:40

The Greek-speaking laity, not the Apostles, were forced out of Jerusalem. Wherever they went, people “saw and believed.” Their enthusiasm for the Good News, more than the miracles Phillip worked, was the “sign” that revealed the life of Jesus in them. And still today, the Church grows or decreases, flourishes or is sterile, in proportion to the enthusiasm of the laity.
The charism and the commission to be a “prophet” comes with Baptism. It is common to the laity, not proper to the clergy. Only through the laity is Jesus made present throughout the whole world—in family and social life, business and politics. Only through the visible enthusiasm and witness of the laity will the Holy Spirit “renew the face of the earth.” People believe what they see. If they do not see Jesus alive in their parents and peer groups, co-workers and colleagues, they will not believe. The role of the clergy is to service the saved. The role of the  laity is to save all those they service.

If they don’t, nobody will.

PRAY: “Be present to your people, Lord, in all you have graced with the gift of faith.”

PRACTICE: Wherever you are, live and give the Good News.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Signs That Speak

May 6 Tuesday of the 3rd week of Easter
A thought for those who want to bear prophetic witness through lifestyle

Acts 7:51-8:1; Psalm 31:3cd-4, 6, 7b, 8a, 17, 21ab; John 6:30-35

“What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you?”... “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” John 6:35

Joy is proof that faith is not fantasy. It is hard to argue against happiness. So Christians have an obligation to be happy! It is an essential for bearing witness to Jesus Christ.

Jesus gave two formulae for happiness: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger… I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness” (John 6:35; 8:12).

The greater our hunger, the more we have to eat to be satisfied. The more we suffer, the more we have to deal with Jesus to be happy. Suffering can become a blessing by driving us to him—if our faith is strong enough to give us hope that we can find happiness in love. Stephen died happy because he saw “the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at God’s right hand.” We can see Jesus acting in our lives if we look. Jesus has promised: “Anyone who comes to me I will never drive away… Come to me, all you carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (John 6:37; Matthew 11:28). Through word and sacrament.

PRAY: “Lord, give me light through your word and strength through your sacraments.”

PRACTICE: Look for light and strength at Mass.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Faith That Works

May 5 

Monday of the 3rd week of Easter: A thought for those who want to bear prophetic witness through lifestyle

Acts 6:8-15; Psalm 119:23-24, 26-27, 29-30; John 6:22-29

“This is the work of God, that you believe.” John 6:29

We pray: “Send forth your Spirit, and our hearts will be regenerated. And you will renew the face of the earth.”

Our work is to renew the face of the earth—by letting Jesus renew it with us, in us and through us. He can only do that if “our hearts are regenerated” by the gift of his Spirit.

The Holy Spirit gives light and love. He enlightens our minds with faith. He moves our hearts with love. Love becomes divine through faith. Faith takes flesh in love. To be Christian is to “become Christ”—living in a way that is both human and divine.

When we do that visibly we are “prophets” bearing witness to the living Jesus: Jesus alive and acting in us.

If we truly believe, we will “not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life.” To make it visible to others that there is “a food that endures” is love. Jesus said, “If you love me, feed my sheep.” A prophetic lifestyle rings the dinner bell!

The “work of God” is to believe with a faith made visible that gives hope to others. To give others hope is love. This is the work of the Spirit.

PRAY: “Send forth your Spirit, and our hearts will be regenerated. And you will renew the face of the earth.”

PRACTICE: Live faith; give hope; be love.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Recognizing Jesus

May 4 
Third Sunday of Easter: A thought for those who want to bear prophetic witness through lifestyle

Acts 2:14,22-33; Psalm 16:1-2a,5,7-8,9-10,11; 1 Peter 1:17-21; Luke 24:13-35

The disciples going to Emmaus recognized the risen Jesus when he “took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them.” We recognize him the same way.

At Mass we experience ourselves praising and appreciating God—for example, in the Gloria—as only those can who have the Spirit of God enlightening and moving them. In the Scripture readings we recognize the voice of Jesus himself present and speaking to us. In the Presentation of the Gifts we hear Jesus saying, “Come, follow me!” as he invites us to present ourselves with the bread and wine to be transformed and share in his mission. In the Eucharistic Prayer we see ourselves as his body, lifted up with him and in him on the cross for the life of the world. And in the Rite of Communion we recognize him present under the appearances of bread and wine, giving himself to us to be our food and life.
At every Eucharist we can echo the words of Peter: “God raised this Jesus; of this we are all witnesses.
Exalted at the right hand of God, he has poured forth the promise of the Holy Spirit that he received from the Father, as we both see and hear.”

PRAY: Lord Jesus, open my eyes and ears. Make my heart burn while you speak to me.”

PRACTICE: At Mass, look with faith; listen with hope; respond wth love

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Be Christ

May 3 Saints Philip and James (Saturday of the 2nd week of Easter:) 
A thought for those who want to bear prophetic witness through lifestyle

1 Corinthians 15:1-8; Psalm 19:2-3,4-5; John 14:6-14   

The readings are all about Jesus appearing and being seen. And recognized through his works.

When Jesus says, “Whoever believes in me will do the works that I do,” it follows that Jesus himself should be recognized and seen in anyone who believes in him.

We cannot do the works of Jesus unless Jesus is doing them in us. “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). So if we really believe, and live out what we believe, whoever sees us is seeing Jesus.

According to our faith, every Christian can and must say what Paul said: “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). That won’t be visible, however, unless it is also visible that we “have been crucified with Christ.”

To be “crucified with Christ” means that in the goals, attitudes, values and priorities we choose for ourselves, we have “died to this world.” Because we have been “raised with Christ,” we “seek the things that are above, where Christ is” (Colossians 2:20; 3:1). Visibly. In our lifestyle.

Then we are proof Jesus lives. Those who see us will see the risen Jesus.

PRAY: Lord, let your message go out through me to all the earth.

PRACTICE: Be what you are. Consciously.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Joy in Giving the Good News

May 2 Friday of the 2nd week of Easter: A thought for those who want to bear prophetic witness through lifestyle

Acts 5:34-42; Psalm 27:1,4,13-14; John 6:1-15

After being flogged for talking about Jesus, the apostles went out “rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer shame for Jesus’ name.” In the Gospel Jesus “gave thanks” that he was able to feed five thousand people on the mountainside—in a preview of the millions he would feed with Eucharist throughout the world. It makes us ask what we find joy in. Is there “one thing” we “ask of the Lord”? One thing above all that we seek?

For the psalmist it was “to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD.” For Christians, if we follow Pope Francis, that is not enough. We need to “go forth” and bring the rest of the world in. The Church “exists to evangelize.”

28. The parish is… an environment for hearing God’s word, for growth in the Christian life, for dialogue, proclamation, charitable outreach, worship and celebration. In all its activities the parish encourages and trains its members to be evangelizers. It is a center of constant missionary outreach.

To evangelize, we first have to bear witness by a lifestyle that cannot be explained without the Good News. To live for others includes living in a way that expresses the truth to others. As prophets.

PRAY: Lord, let my life give light.

PRACTICE: Ask yourself what every choice expresses. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Where Are You Coming From?

May 1  Thursday of the 2nd week of Easter: A thought for those who want to bear prophetic witness through lifestyle
Acts 5:27-33; Psalm 34:2, 9, 17-18, 19-20; John 3:31-36

Jesus said, “The one who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of earthly things.” In contrast, speaking of himself, he said, “The one who comes from heaven… testifies to what he has seen and heard.”

Peter said later, speaking for all the baptized, “We are witnesses of these things,” meaning the words and actions of Jesus. These are “what we have seen and heard.” If we live up to our baptismal consecration as “prophets,” we “testify” to them.
It follows that if we don’t “testify to what we have seen and heard,” but instead “speak of earthly things,” we come across as people who are “of the earth, earthly.” In us there is no manifestation of “the Holy Spirit whom God has given.”

Then—visibly, at least—we are not “spiritual.” And not Christian. That is not good. We are failing Jesus Christ, our Father, and the Holy Spirit. We are failing in love for our brothers and sisters. Failing to “build up the body of Christ in love” (Ephesians 4:12-16).

If we are failing, it is probably out of fear of making a bad impression. What if Jesus and the apostles had yielded to that fear? Where would we be now?

PRAY: Lord, don’t let me be ashamed of you.

PRACTICE: Testify to what you have seen and heard. Get in touch with it first.