Sunday, April 3, 2016

Doing Is Believing

Doing Is Believing
MONDAY, Easter week two

The Responsorial Psalm shows us how to deal with fear when we are threatened because of the witness we bear to Jesus: Happy are all who put their trust in the Lord” (Psalm 2).

In Acts 4: 23-31 Peter and John seek support from the faith of the community after they have been commanded by the priests and elders “never to mention that man’s name [Jesus] to anyone again.”

The response of the whole community is first to recall and proclaim the sovereignty of God “who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them.” Next they affirmed God’s power and the certainty of his triumph over his enemies: “Why did the Gentiles rage, the peoples conspire in folly… against the Lord and his anointed?” Those who conspired against Jesus “brought about the very things which in your powerful providence you planned long ago.”

Then they asked God to give them “complete assurance” by granting “cures and signs and wonders to be worked in the name of Jesus.” And God responded: “The place where they were gathered shook as they prayed. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak God’s word with confidence.”

Normally God does not give such dramatic signs of his presence and power. In John 3: 1-8 Jesus tells Nicodemus that the most basic source of our assurance is in the simple fact that we have been born again; that we are sharers in God’s own divine life; that, in Augustine’s words, “we have become not only Christians, but Christ!”(quoted by John Paul II in The Splendor of Truth, no. 21). We say with the same Saint Augustine, “Give me the grace to do what you command, Lord, and command whatever you wish — Da quod jubes et jube quod vis.” Why? Because “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Jesus lives in us; we are his body; he has poured out his Spirit into our hearts; he himself acts in and through us. All we have to do is put his words creatively into practice and live them out in the concrete circumstances of our time and place by surrendering to his inspirations. We need to follow the voice of his Spirit, even when we “do not know where it comes from or where it goes” — meaning we have to give up the need for security and control that insists on seeing with mathematical certitude precisely where an inspiration is coming from and leading. This is our role as prophets and we were anointed by God to fulfill it. We will be blessed and bless the world if we do. Happy are all who put their trust in the Lord.”

Initiative: Be a prophet. Trust in the inspirations of the Holy Spirit even when you are not sure where they may lead you. But discern with the community.

1 comment:

  1. Does God in our own day give us a Peter or a John (as in Acts 4) to miraculously cure us along with signs and wonders worked in the name of Jesus? In my “scientific” moments of reflection, I might say no. But then I am not sure. In thinking about my childhood, I feel that He must have spared my siblings, parents, and me from serious illnesses because we were very poor and medically uninsured---perhaps because my Catholic mom and Lutheran dad were people of prayer and great faith. Maybe if we had a faith such as theirs---or even more so, a faith that could move mountains (Mt 17:20), then we too would see the miraculous cures of Peter and John.

    But then again, perhaps not. Would miraculous cures in our times bring humanity closer to God? I wonder. If the Pharisees and Sadducees could deny the many cures of Jesus, the awakening of Jairus’ daughter in Luke 40, and the raising of Lazarus in John 11, could it be that many of the intellectually elite of today would attribute such miracles to random acts of nature that await a scientific explanation in the future. Perhaps God in His infinite wisdom and practicality has devised a better way than to zap us with a miraculous cure—one that adds more of us to His entourage of Peters and Johns.

    Several weeks ago, I underwent surgery and was surrounded by many Christ-like healers--from the surgeon, to the nurses, to the cheerful young woman who brought me my 4 and 5-star hospital meals. Obviously, the surgeon did more than simply lay her hands on me and pray, yet the skill of those trained hands did cure me; now I am healed and feel wonderful! She, along with every person whom I encountered in the hospital, was my Peter and John. Nurses are truly angels. Yes, they are paid for what they do, but everyone one of them did more than was required: Anna, youthful and exuberant, who found time to chat with me and make me laugh and even offered to go down to the cafeteria during her break to get me ice cream; Sushma, compassionate and kind, who despite her busy schedule, found the time to massage my very itchy legs with Aveeno lotion in the wee hours because I could not; and Kiley, a consummate and skilled nurse in every way, who was always there when I needed her and who told me when I left her care that she loved all of her patients. And then there was my loving spouse who prayed with and for me and who snuck in goodies from Panera and Starbucks. Surely the hand of Jesus is working through all of these wonderful people, be they baptized Christians or not.

    Finally, all thanks to the wonderful priest who drove to the hospital from the nether lands of Frayser to anoint me before surgery.

    Pax tecum,


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