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The Week of May 28, 2017


 

Brief reflections on the week’s Scripture readings.

 


The Word…

 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you,
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,

throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
When he had said this, as they were looking on,
he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.
While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going,
suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them.
They said, "Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky?
This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven
will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven."

(from Acts 1:1-11)

Pondering the Word…

Here’s a little experiment for this week: See if you can notice how many times you or someone you’re with looks up to the sky. We do it when we are impatient. We do it when we are frustrated. We do it when we are weak...tired…sad…lonely…name a negative emotion, and you’ll see people—whether they believe in God or not—cast their eyes skyward. Of course, people of faith do the same thing when they are grateful or praising God, but that’s usually a more conscious action.

I can’t imagine how often the first disciples intentionally looked up into the heavens, hoping and praying that today would be the day when Jesus would return. As the months and years went on without any indication of Christ’s imminent arrival, how frustrating and disheartening it must have been. Yet they persevered, living their out their faith in the promise, keeping their eyes focused on creating fertile ground for Jesus’ return.

Living the Word…

Two thousand years have passed, and still we persevere. Yes, skeptics likely look askance at our faith. Yes, we may still look to the heavens and pray for Christ’s arrival, but as Christians, we know that if we only look up to await the Kingdom, we miss Christ’s presence alive and among us. But more importantly, we also miss opportunities to foster growth in faith through the love and compassion we offer to others.

The Book of Revelations predicts an epic battle between good and evil, maybe frightening some people into belief. But I wonder: is God, like an infinitely patient parent, just waiting for humanity to learn what makes for peace for ourselves? Perhaps Christ will finally return when the seeds he planted as he walked the earth are ready to burst into bloom in the fertile soil we’ve fed by our faith, our hope, and our witness.

What will you do today to nurture the growth of the Kingdom?   


May 29: God arises; his enemies are scattered, and those who hate him flee before him. As smoke is driven away, so are they driven; as wax melts before the fire. (Ps 68)

God arises, like fire before both his enemies and the just. Will we be like silver tested and purified by the fire through our faith in God’s mercy (Ps 66) , or will we melt away, not because we are evil or due to our sins, but because we lack faith in God’s salvation? We are tested by fires and trials throughout our lives. Some fires we set for ourselves, but many are due to our human condition. Let us face those fires with our faith in God intact, to become ever stronger for the trials that lay ahead.

 May 30: "I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world…I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me… (Jn 17: 1-11)

Every time this passage comes up, I think, “You really need to deal with this at some point.” Jesus’s words, “I do not pray for the world,” bother me, and seem contradictory to his words in Luke 6 about loving those who don’t love you. Isn’t it “the world” for which we really should be praying? Jesus is not dismissing creation or all of God’s children. The Greek word, “kocmoy,” derived from “kosmos,” translates to “system.” Jesus prays his disciples will be protected from the evils of the world in which they are called to witness. A few verses later, Jesus prays for all who will be brought to him through the disciples. Being “in the world, but not of the world” is hard work. If we are to witness, if we are to work to change the unjust and evil systems that exist, we need all the prayers we can get! Each day, as you go out in Chris’s name, ask him to pray for you as well.

May 31: Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah…and greeted Elizabeth. (Lk 1:39-56)

Mary sets out right away to tend to her elderly cousin Elizabeth who is in the final trimester of pregnancy. Mary’s first instinct is to care. When Elizabeth hears her greeting, she acknowledges the miracle happening to Mary. Imagine the peace that greeting brought to Mary, to know there is someone with whom she can share what she is experiencing! We are often ready to reach out to others, but hesitant when another offers to care for us. If this sounds like you, remember this beautiful example of mutual caring and support between Elizabeth and Mary. Allow others the gift of caring for you.

 

Jun 1: “Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me.” (Jn 17: 20-26)

Jesus is referring not only to the Apostles, but to all “who will believe in me through their word.” It’s often hard for me to imagine Jesus thinking of me as “a gift,” and yet that is what we are called to be. As gifts, we are to be opened and used to bring joy. Be a gift to Jesus today. Open up and bring joy to those you meet.

Jun 2: As far as the east is from the west, so far has he put our transgressions from us. (Ps 103)

Yes, we know this. We proclaim Christ died for the sins of humanity. But do we really believe it in our hearts, about our own sinfulness? I meet many people who keep their sins closely tucked away, never far from reach, so they can bring them out to suffer for the same transgression over and over. This is not what God wants from us or for us. That’s why he chose to become one of us. Are our sins part of what makes us who we are? Yes, but they don’t define our lives unless we let them. We are so much more than the worst thing we’ve ever done. If we let sinfulness define who we are, we discount the sacrifice Christ made on our behalf. Acknowledge, atone, learn, repent, and move on. “It is not so much where we’ve been or where we are, but in what direction we are moving.” (Adapted, Oliver Wendell Holmes)

Jun 3: There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written. (Jn 21:20-25)

Oooh, don’t you just wish John had written a sequel! He ends his gospel with the perfect “teaser” for the next in the series. But he didn’t write any more about Christ’s life. Perhaps he understood that those who followed would be the ones to share their stories. We are the present-day evangelists, the ones called to document, by our words and actions, the many things Jesus has done and continues to do in our lives. Do you keep a journal of your “Jesus stories?” I think John is right: If we were to write down all the things Jesus does for all the people in the world, we could scarcely contain the joy. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try!
 


© 2017, Elaine H. Ireland.  “Come and See!”

Reflections are available at http://www.preacherexchange.com/comeandsee.htm

To receive “Come and See” via email, send a request to ehireland@loyola.edu


Elaine Ireland has a passion for working with parents and anyone who struggles to maintain a sense of God’s love and peace amid the day-to-day challenges of life. She has a master’s degree in Spiritual and Pastoral Care from the Pastoral Counseling department at Loyola, Maryland, with a focus on developmental psychology and spiritual guidance.  Rooted in Ignatian spirituality, she is a writer, retreat and workshop leader, and presenter on topics such as pastoral parenting, “letting go,” and finding the spiritual in the midst of everyday life. She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland with her husband, Mark and children, David and Maggie.

 

We hope you enjoy "Come and See!" and we welcome your input. Please contact Elaine Ireland at ehireland@loyola.edu with questions, comments, and responses.

 

© 2009, Elaine H. Ireland - Images@FaithClipart.com


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