Our
travelogue.

After Paul and Barnabas had proclaimed the good news to that city and made a considerable number of disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch. They strengthened the spirits of the disciples and exhorted them to persevere in the faith… They appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord.

Today’s first reading from Acts presents quite the travelogue. Paul and Barnabas had been getting around and welcomed the Gentiles into the Holy Church. In fact, Chapter 14 of Acts covers eight cities where the leather of their sandals really got a workout. The road wasn’t easy. At Iconium they were nearly stoned. At Lystra, Paul was stoned.

Those things are facts. Cities, miles, shoe leather, the number who came to the Lord, the number who turned away. Above the facts of the trip and the numbers in and outside the Holy Church, Paul and Barnabas were carefully laying out a model of behavior. Through teaching and example, they present us with a measuring stick, a barometer, a gauge, standard, and frame of reference by which we may determine how committed we are to travel Christ’s way.

The Gospel and Revelation speak of newness. A new way of life – founded on love, but not any old love. It is the love Jesus walked. A new heaven and earth unknown to anyone before and unachievable except by traveling with Jesus.

This newness is Jesus way of life. He makes all things new, doesn’t He? But to have part of that newness, to be welcomed into the new Jerusalem we have to walk the same travelogue Paul and Barnabas walked.

Jesus is the steps, the map. Paul and Barnabas proclaimed Jesus, the truth of the Gospel told plainly in the face of rejection – because there was those who did come to believe and were saved. They stayed strong! So must we with truth to turn souls to Jesus. They made disciples – we must tell and invite. They lived community by strengthening, encouraging – It is what our community in Mont Pleasant is about. They exhorted – called people to faithfulness, didn’t let people slack – Call that person who has been away. They shared the ministry. Call men to take up the challenge. It is time to hit the road on Jesus’ travelogue.

This week’s memory verse: She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

Proverbs 31:26
  • 5/12 – Proverbs 31:30
  • 5/13 – Proverbs 31:10
  • 5/14 – 1 Timothy 2:9-10
  • 5/15 – Galatians 3:28
  • 5/16 – Psalm 46:5
  • 5/17 – Genesis 1:27
  • 5/18 – Luke 8:1-3

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, grant that the women of Your Holy Church may be inspired to bring the gifts You have bestowed on them into our midst.

About the
when.

“These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

It is often said that it is all about the timing. It is about being there when our ship comes in. Well. today the ship has really come in. Three special celebrations all in one day. We, of course, celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday. We also honor our Blessed Mother, Mary, in a special way today crowning her with our admiration and love. Finally, we celebrate Mother’s Day. While these celebrations may seem somewhat disparate, there is a central theme that runs throughout. It is the theme of motherhood, of deep caring. About mom getting us to when.

As we consider the concept of motherhood, let us look at it from the angle of our mom’s, our Blessed Mother, and what the Good Shepherd left us, our Holy Mother, the Church.

Each of the ‘mom’s’ in our lives exist in time. Each of them has related to us throughout our lives in differing ways. Each of them has left an impact and a past. Each offers potential for the future. Each has been the source of tears and joys leading us to when.

We start with our mom’s. As we reflect on them we consider their experiences of us, and what they prepared for us. As we reflect on such things, we consider those many times mom may wondered about us. We also, and much more frequently, reflect on the happy moments. Those times mom was assured of our love, when she knew her counsel made a difference, when she had assurance of our ok’ness. For her, it is/was about our when, the opportunity of the moment – for us to have everything that really matters.

The same with our Blessed Mother. She holds out her hands to us. She watches over and intercedes for us. She certainly has wondered about us when we were distant from her Son. But there she is, always ready to help us come back. For her, it is about our when, the opportunity of the moment – for us to have everything that really matters.

Our Holy Mother, the Church, works diligently to raise us to the realization of Jesus’ intervention as Good Shepherd. We find Him holding the gate open, leading us, knowing us. For the Shepherd and His Holy Church it is about our when, the opportunity to have everything that really matters.

Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!”

Mary spoke seven times as recorded by scripture. While I am sure she spoke more than that, that is all that is recorded. In those seven moments (depending on the Bible translation), Mary spoke a grand total of 189 words. Of the 189 words, 180 were spoken before Jesus was born and through His childhood. Only 9 were spoken when He was an adult, and only as a precursor to His launching His ministry. We tend to place a lot of emphasis on words, and perhaps not enough on action. However, the action is where it is at. That’s where we want to be, taking part in what’s happening. The Magnificat – a fancy way of saying Mary’s Prayer – gives us an example of one who really wants to be part of the action. Mary is proclaiming how her very being, her soul and spirit, are intent on magnifying and rejoicing in the Lord. She is throwing her whole self into God’s way of living, God’s way of being, God’s way of changing everything. She saying – I just don’t want to be part of that, I am fully in, onboard. Throughout the rest of scripture, we occasionally meet Mary. She is there as her Son ministers, she is along the Way of the Cross, at the foot of the Cross, a witness to His burial, and with the disciples on Pentecost. She made herself all-in. She did this by her service, by her willingness to follow, by her letting her Son’s precious words and actions shine forth. As we enter the month of May, Mary’s month, recall that the Holy Church sets her example forth not as some long ago tale, as some stale devotion, or as words for the sake of words, but so we may live her engagement as a disciple. Mary did not sit back and let words come before her action of magnifying and rejoicing in the Lord. This May, as we mow, tend to new blooming gardens, and honor mom, let us redouble our action and engagement, placing our whole selves into Jesus work, like Mary.

Join us in May for the fullness of the Easter Season, great national and local events now and throughout the summer, special thanks, and lots of great fellowship right here in Schenectady.

Read more in our May 2019 Newsletter.

This week’s memory verse:  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

2 Corinthians 5:17
  • 5/5 – Ephesians 2:8
  • 5/6 – 1 John 1:9
  • 5/7 – Romans 10:9
  • 5/8 – John 3:16
  • 5/9 – Proverbs 11:30
  • 5/10 – John 14:6
  • 5/11 – 2 Timothy 2:15

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, grant that I may not shun the amazing You provide. Help me to let go, be unafraid, and follow You; feeding and tending all those You bring to me.

Expect the
amazing.

And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”

Jesus appears again resurrected.  He encounters His disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. We have all the drama of the encounter with the unexpected. The disciples do not recognize Jesus. He sounds like a sideline commentator; hey you should fish over there. Peter, the nearly naked fisherman runs for cover once John recognizes Jesus.

So much of Jesus’ ministry is an encounter with the unexpected. The widow, bringing out her dead son, sees him risen. Martha and Mary, thinking Jesus too late, see their brother risen. The woman caught in adultery, the Samaritan woman who went from man-to-man, find the Lord full of both insight and compassionate forgiveness.

Last Sunday, we were asked to share Jesus, His resurrected life, His mercy, His central role in our life. If we did, did we experience an encounter with the unexpected? Did Jesus show up, surprisingly, and give new sight, new freedom, and forgiveness?

The disciples, the nascent Church, found Jesus with them. In spite of locked doors, unbelief, poor fishing, lack of insight, nakedness, and past. He returned and returns, feeding, instructing, forgiving.

Do we perceive or understand this resurrected Lord? Are we ready to really get what’s going on? If we truly saw, if this empty tomb, the glory of Easter morning hit us full on, life would be so different. Why?

Because we have a life of unexpected encounter in Jesus. We have been changed. Hit with this power, Revelation tells us: the elders fell down and worshiped. Knowing what we have this minute, knowing what we will receive, knowing the power of our baptism and our sealing with the Holy Spirit, we would be out those doors proclaiming like the first apostles: “We must obey God rather than men.” Jesus was killed and is raised. Jesus is exalted. Jesus offers you opportunity for repentance and forgiveness. I am His witness. We are His witnesses, here in Schenectady, and Scotia, and Glenville, Rotterdam, across New York, and everywhere we go. We would be constantly in awe. But we are afraid.

Peter was afraid, naked in his betrayal – until the unexpected. Jesus was there telling Him as He tells us: Let go. Be unafraid. Follow me. Feed and tend. Expect the amazing.

This week’s memory verse: 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

Matthew 28:19
  • 4/28 – 2 Timothy 4:2
  • 4/29 – 2 Timothy 1:8
  • 4/30 – 1 Peter 3:15
  • 5/1 – Romans 1:12
  • 5/2 – John 15:16
  • 5/3 – 1 Timothy 4:12
  • 5/4 – Philemon 1:6

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, grant that I may actively introduce myself and share all that has been handed down to me.

We
share.

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

On the Sunday following His resurrection, in the evening, Jesus appears once again. These appearances of Jesus fulfill many purposes. They perpetuate and reinforce the teachings He had provided over the course of His ministry. They obviously show His resurrected body and its physicality (He eats and drinks with them) – the promise for our resurrection in the body. Today, we see Him also strengthening the faith of Thomas and leaving direction for all who doubt (doubt is never wrong, rather it is the outcome, how we overcome our doubt that matters). We also see a commissioning of the disciples with power, sending with the right to loose and to bind.

In jumping between Jesus’ commissioning of the disciples and the encounter with Thomas, we tend to miss a nuance. The nuance is that we share. As disciples, we share. Christianity is about sharing.

This sharing begins with the fact that we are sent. Consider that Jesus had no reason to send us, nor do we have any reason to go, unless we have something to share. 

He asked that we go and share His word, we share His life-giving sacrifice, we share the promise of this – His empty tomb. We share both as empowered individuals and as a community.

It is so nice to share – great to share but sharing also has a cost. We have to be ready to accept the cost. What would we give up to share Jesus today? Tomorrow? 

St. John the Evangelist declared in Revelation: I, John, your brother, who share with you the distress, the kingdom, and the endurance we have in Jesus. That captures it so well. John starts introducing himself, calls himself our brother, and starts sharing. He sees that he shares in all things – the good and the bad. What a perfect model of what Jesus wanted of us told through the disciple He loved. What a perfect model for us.

The week ahead – share. Let us introduce ourselves, be a brother or sister, share with each person so they may share also in the distress, the kingdom, and the endurance. Share to grow the community. Share Jesus because we share.

This week’s memory verse: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead

1 Peter 1:3
  • SUNDAY: John 6:40
  • MONDAY: Romans 8:11
  • TUESDAY: John 11:25
  • WEDNESDAY: Romans 6:4
  • THURSDAY: 1 Corinthians 6:14
  • FRIDAY: 1 Thessalonians 4:16
  • SATURDAY: Job 19:25-26

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, by Your death and resurrection You destroyed death by death. I praise and thank You for this great gift You have provided me.

Getting done
what had to be done.

For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.

What a weird thing to say. John, in writing this gospel, is recalling that moment at the tomb. As he is recalling, he interprets the scriptures to say that Jesus had to rise from the dead. A weird thing to say because this writing and interpretation of scripture is directive to God. It is telling God what He must do.

Would we ever presume to tell God what He must do? Oh, by the way God, You have to do this. Yet this is what we read about Jesus today. Jesus had to rise from the dead.

On the morning of the resurrection John, and Peter by inference, did not yet understand. Later they would all realize that Jesus had to do this. Jesus had to get done what He had to get done.

Jesus mission to us is an eternal arc. This narrative, this historical account, begins from eternity and goes to eternity. His work is completely directed to and for us.

Easter, the Solemnity of the Resurrection, all the joy and celebration we feel today, is about this. It is about celebrating what God wiled Himself, required Himself, to do for us.

God’s work is never incomplete, it is never pointless. Each aspect of His work has purpose and effect. Every moment of Jesus life was about and for you and me, each of us, no one excluded.

Is there any point where Jesus’ arc was just good enough? Should He have just sent word through the prophets and left good enough alone? Should He have stopped at the stable in Bethlehem, giving us only a glimpse of what might be possible? Perhaps after His preaching and miracles? After all, we would have had wise words to live by, a nice example to follow. Should He have stopped at the cross, gotten down to show His power? Could we say enough, all right, at His death and burial. Should that have been it? No! We, by Jesus’ eternal arc, have the fulness of God’s life in us. We have the examples of the prophets. We have Jesus’ incarnation and coming for us. We have His life – God among us showing us how to live God’s life. We have freedom from all sin and freedom from eternal death by the cross. Life forever in the resurrection because Jesus did what He hadto do.