These reflections are a result of more than 40 years of ministry as a Roman Catholic priest. Most of these years I spent in the Diocese of Charlotte which covers Western North Carolina. Now I am retired, and live in Medellín, Colombia where I continue to serve as a priest in the Archdiocese of Medellín.
Jesus said to his disciples:
I came from the Father and have come into the world.
Now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.
In most parts of the Catholic world, we will be celebrating the Ascension Sunday tomorrow—which makes perfect sense with this passage from the Fourth Gospel (according to John). In the Fourth Gospel, the raising of Jesus on the Cross is his passion, death, resurrection, ascension, his glorification and exaltation, all rolled into one.
Jesus said to his disciples:
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain.
My friend, Father Jerry Neufelder, who was my first spiritual director in seminary, mentioned a book about spirituality, called The Choice Is Always Ours. And that is true, the choice is always ours . . . we can always choose to say yes or no to God’s call. But as Jesus points out, he’s the one who chooses first!
Paul left Athens and went to Corinth . . . and went to a house
belonging to a man named Titus Justus, a worshiper of God;
his house was next to a synagogue.
Crispus, the synagogue official, came to believe in the Lord
along with his entire household, and many of the Corinthians
who heard believed and were baptized.
Ancient Corinth must have been a wonderful opportunity for Saint Paul. He supposedly stayed there for a year and a half. The Christian community met in homes, meanwhile the state cult enjoyed the Temple of Apollo.
Then Paul stood up at the Areopagus and said:
“You Athenians, I see that in every respect
you are very religious.
For as I walked around looking carefully at your shrines,
I even discovered an altar inscribed, ‘To an Unknown God.’
What therefore you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you.
To stand at the Areopagus is to stand in the footsteps of Saint Paul.
Then the jailer brought them out and said,
“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus
and you and your household will be saved.”
So they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to everyone in his house.
He took them in at that hour of the night and bathed their wounds;
then he and all his family were baptized at once.
The story of Paul and Silas in the prison has this fascinating detail: after the jailer bathed their wounds, he and his whole family were baptized at once. Everyone gets washed up and enjoys a meal celebrating new found faith in God!
One of them, 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.
God brings us together on the journey of faith placing folks in our lives at just the right moment. What may appear to be pure chance, on deeper reflection reveals a guiding hand at work. Today is the feast of Saint Damien of Molokai, the leper priest who brought new hope to hopeless people.
Beloved, let us love one another,
because love is of God.
(1 Jn 4:7-10)
Mother’s Day is the perfect time to remember and say ‘thank you’ for the wonderful gift of our mothers (and all the mother-bears we’ve had in our lives). Our mothers teach us this basic truth of our faith: to love one another. A mother’s love, like God’s love, is a fierce love—a sacrificial love.