The Ascension is a very consoling feast. It may not seem that way, if you only think of it as Jesus leaving the apostles to carry on by themselves. Furthermore, Matthew even says that when they first saw the risen Lord, “they worshiped, but [some] doubted,” which indicates some were struggling to believe (Matthew 28:17). But then Jesus speaks words that have encouraged believers from then until now, first sending them (and now us) out to make disciples of all nations by baptizing others into the life of the Trinity, and teaching them what Jesus taught. His final words in the Gospel have encouraged the church through the centuries and continue to motivate and strengthen all who take them to heart: “Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (28:20). Our faith also tells us that Jesus is both with us and with the Father, interceding for us, praying for us, continuing to send the Holy Spirit, the “Spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of [God],” deepening our hope in the glory yet to come, and strengthening the bonds that unite us as his body, the Church (Ephesians 1:17).
How does this feast encourage you in your life today?READ MORE
Easter reminds us that the risen Lord Jesus continues to bring us Easter gifts—peace, joy, forgiveness—as he did to the apostles and the first members of the church. But we are also challenged to examine how we work with them to witness to Christ, as Philip the deacon does today in Acts. And the first Letter of Saint Peter makes a few suggestions, calling us first to make Christ our priority: "Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts" (3:15). To say Christ is Lord is to witness to him as the Son of God raised from the dead by the Father. From there, it urges us always to be ready to explain to anyone who asks why we have hope, why we can go into the future trusting in God's promise of eternal life, "life in the Spirit," which begins even now. This also means willing to suffer for doing good, in imitation of the Christ who suffered for us. Such a commitment to Christ is not always easy, but Jesus promised to send us the Holy Spirit to be our teacher, who will help us and draw us more deeply into the life shared by the Father and the Son.
How will you accept this Easter challenge?READ MORE
The importance of knowing the way to any destination is less burdensome in our day because technology has brought us the GPS or allows us to link up with various apps on our smartphones. Nevertheless, there are still times when I am driving in relatively unknown territory, with cars whizzing by and night coming on, my digital map so full of information that I yearn for a clear voice to direct me. So too in more substantial matters. Last week, Jesus said he was the good shepherd. This week, he presents himself as the way, the truth, and the life. He will help us reach our destination. In our journey to God, we are also given faith-filled people whose lives show us the way to the Father. As we celebrate Mother’s Day today, consider how your mothers, grandmothers, and godmothers have shown you the way to God by their words and deeds. No parent is perfect, but most do the best they can to care for their children and help them to know God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
Who are the mothers you have known? Say a prayer for them in gratitude.READ MORE
Something special occurs when someone you love calls you by name. It can bring both joy and a feeling of security, just knowing that person is near. Jesus refers to himself as a good shepherd who calls his own sheep by name and leads them out to pasture. In turn he also says, “the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice: (John 10:4). It is not surprising that this image of Jesus as a shepherd is one of the oldest found among the gathering places of the early Christians, the catacombs. While few of us live in a setting where shepherds with their sheep are familiar sight, nevertheless the image continues to communicate that Jesus Christ is someone whom we can follow with confidence, trust, and the assurance that he will watch over us and bring us safely home. He is truly the “guardian of [our] souls” (1 Peter 2:25). So we must continue to listen for his voice and do our best to follow him. Saint Peter’s call to repentance in Acts is an ongoing event for us.
What do you think of when you hear Jesus promise to bring us abundant life?
—We Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 42, No. 2READ MORE