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: “In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” (Jn 16:33)
There was a film made in the 1950’s about the Catholic missions in North Carolina. It was called “In the Footsteps of the Tarheel Apostolate.” The final scene was of a priest celebrating Mass at an overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The priest elevates the host, and then comes the voice over: “The Dream—Every North Carolinian a Catholic.” The Lord conquered the world—but he never said that we would nor that we should try. On the contrary, the Lord said that we would have troubles in the world . . . but not to be afraid.
The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Mt 28:16-20)
The Great Commission is the gift of the Risen Lord. The Ascension marks the ending of the earthly ministry of Jesus, and the beginning of our own. The Risen Lord entrusts the ministry to us and sends us out to make disciples, to baptize and to teach what we have received. And the promise: I am with you always!
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.” (Jn 16:28)
The Easter Season of Fifty Days is drawing to a close. As we seek to understand these troubling times and to find the Lord in the midst of pain and suffering, we hold on to the hope that the Risen Lord will not abandon us, but will continue to pour out abundantly upon us the Spirit of Love.
Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy. When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. (Jn 16:20-22)
My friend, Father Larry Richardt, always said that what was coming must be spectacular . . . because the birth pangs are horrendous! With everything that is happening in the world today, let’s hope that Father Larry is right!
Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. He 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. (Acts 18:1, 7-8)
Corinth was very important city in the ancient world. The Temple of Apollo must have been very impressive. There was even a Jewish synagogue. But the tiny Christian community was a bit more humble. They met in people’s homes.
After Paul’s escorts had taken him to Athens, they came away with instructions for Silas and Timothy to join him as soon as possible. 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. (Acts 17:15, 22-23)
When you stand on the Areopagus in Athens looking up at the Acropolis, it’s not hard to imagine Saint Paul engaging the Athenians in debate. Saint Paul was brave and fearless.
About midnight, while Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God as the prisoners listened, there was suddenly such a severe earthquake that the foundations of the jail shook; all the doors flew open, and the chains of all were pulled loose. (Acts 16:25-26)
When I visited Spain, we saw churches with chains attached to their exterior. The chains were from Christian prisoners who had been freed during the reconquest or had been redeemed from their captors.