Pooped on by a bird. Yep. That was today’s attempt from the little demons who try to keep me from attending my precious prayer group. Every week he tries something. Last week he won as one crazy thing after another picked off all of us but one, and since we don’t meet unless there are three of us, last week left a “prayer group” sized hole in my heart all week. But I finished walking the dog, cleaned up quickly (me AND my poor dog who got it too) hopped in the car and made it just in time…for me, which is late.
Today’s prayer group was blessed with two lovely guests (who we hope will return soon) and we discussed the reading for this Sunday, which were actually readings for Ascension Thursday, (today). It’s confusing but the church often moves the celebration of the day Jesus ascends to our Heavenly Father to a Sunday, where this important day is celebrated in full.
16 The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. 18 Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)
The gospel passage we read above (and will read together as the church on Sunday) as always provided us all with such comforting revelations.
- “Behold, I am with you always,” Jesus’ last words before he ascends are of comfort to the apostles and to us all…that he will be with us always, even when life isn’t easy, we are not alone. He is assuring the apostles as they get ready to begin their mission of evangelization.
- “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them…”we must draw on all of the beauty in us and use it to go out and do what we are called to do in transcending the doubts of others to bring them Christ’s love.
- “I am with you always…” Our time on earth is limited and when we keep in mind that there is an end to our time, or the end of “the age” (whatever that may mean for any of us) we must make acts of trust often and be determined to live our lives well and enjoy each day. (“Jesus, I trust in you.”)
- This passage speaks of teaching; we are constantly learning ourselves and teaching others. We never stop growing and learning in our lives, and then we are called to continuously share what we know.
- Another member felt strongly about “teaching” as a theme in this passage. We are called to be in constant conversion ourselves so that we can go out into the world and teach and share Christ with others.
- “They doubted” Christ knew they were doubting and then he spoke to their fear and reminded them that he is powerful and they will not be alone. I need to remember when I am struggling or doubting to turn to Jesus and listen to what he says in response to my fears.
For myself, I couldn’t get past “But they doubted…” and “All power in Heaven and on earth has been given to me”. Here is the most powerful force in the history of history and he is assuring these followers, who are once again, doubting, even in his midst, of what it means to be before God. As I am still chewing on the “unique” situation of the resurrection we talked about in our monthly retreat (see previous post), and how confusing it must have been for the apostles of Jesus, I can’t be so hard on myself when things are difficult and I wonder when even in the midst if these miraculous times, they doubted. I can, however, make an executive decision on behalf of the “Committee” (members which include my feelings, my education, what I have heard, understood, experienced…all those characteristics that make up someone’s mind about something) that “we” are going to believe. That is my decision, as CEO of my will. I choose and hereby give an ordinance that all of those factors must answer to my will, which chooses God, must abide. So there. I am the boss of me.
In our cases today, we decided on a case about a man who was driving through the bank ATM and discovered that $500 cash had been left behind by someone. Out of concern, he took the cash into the bank and asked for the manager, who claimed not to have any idea what he could tell the man, and shrugged off the situation. The man pressed on an had the manager kindly research the ATM records to find out who had been at the ATM just before his transaction. They discovered it was an elderly woman on a fixed income who had left behind the cash, which was her entire budget for rent and food for the month. She offered in gratitude to give the man a $40 reward for helping her get her money back. He soon found out that her rent was $450 and she was offering him almost the entire amount of money for her food budget. He proceeded to not only decline the money from her, but to deposit more money into her account. Inspired by his kindness, the drive-thru bank tellers also decided to chip in on her account and made deposits as well.
A parallel (or similar case) was that of a musician who did concerts for people who could not afford it or needed hope. He arranged at his own expense to go to places where people were on the fringes and facing discouragement; nursing homes, prisons, etc, and played with other musicians to teach others about his faith and bring some beauty and hope to his listeners. Some of his listeners were death row prisoners, and he had received many letters of thanks for bringing beauty to someone who might not otherwise have it. He has children with special needs, and organizes the concerts on his own time and with his own money for traveling. It costs him a great deal but he feels called to share his faith this way.
Both cases were examples of immense charity. We felt this virtue stuck out beyond all others, even hope, which seemed to be the fruit of charity that was exemplified in both. The charity not only was beyond normal measure, but in both cases it actually cost the person who was charitable something of themselves, and took a great deal of fortitude in doing so. They had to try very hard to give away something at their own expense.
We felt it was so important to be that person who goes beyond the norm to search out the marginalized person who may not otherwise be touched, and to be the one to smile, touch their hand, say a kind word, and offer help. We made a commitment this week to intentionally seek out someone to bless at the cost of our own time, and whatever else the Holy Spirit may be calling us to do.
As always, we accompany this apostolic resolution with a spiritual commitment, so that we are not trying to evangelize from our own stores, but the Holy Spirit’s endless run of graces for us to tap into and use. We decided that making an act of hope throughout the week (several times a day) would be the best way to inspire us to be hope for others.
ACTS OF HOPE:
- O my God, relying on your infinite goodness and promises, I hope to obtain pardon of my sins, the help of your grace, and life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer. Amen (Catholic Encyclopedia)
- O Lord God, I hope by your grace for the pardon of all my sins and after life here to gain eternal happiness because you have promised it who are infinitely powerful, faithful, kind, and merciful. In this hope I intend to live and die. Amen. (USCCB)
- Also: “Jesus, increase my hope.”