Monday of the Sixth Week of Easter

Reading I Acts 16:11-15

We set sail from Troas, making a straight run for Samothrace,
and on the next day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi,
a leading city in that district of Macedonia and a Roman colony.
We spent some time in that city.
On the sabbath we went outside the city gate along the river
where we thought there would be a place of prayer.
We sat and spoke with the women who had gathered there.
One of them, a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth,
from the city of Thyatira, a worshiper of God, listened,
and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention
to what Paul was saying.
After she and her household had been baptized,
she offered us an invitation,
“If you consider me a believer in the Lord,
come and stay at my home,” and she prevailed on us.

Responsorial Psalm 149:1b-2, 3-4, 5-6a and 9b

R.    (see 4a)  The Lord takes delight in his people.
or:
R.    Alleluia.
Sing to the LORD a new song
    of praise in the assembly of the faithful.
Let Israel be glad in their maker,
    let the children of Zion rejoice in their king.
R.    The Lord takes delight in his people.
or:
R.    Alleluia.
Let them praise his name in the festive dance,
    let them sing praise to him with timbrel and harp.
For the LORD loves his people,
    and he adorns the lowly with victory.
R.    The Lord takes delight in his people.
or:
R.    Alleluia.
Let the faithful exult in glory;
    let them sing for joy upon their couches.
Let the high praises of God be in their throats.
    This is the glory of all his faithful. Alleluia.
R.    The Lord takes delight in his people.
or:
R.    Alleluia.

Alleluia Jn 15:26b, 27a

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Spirit of truth will testify to me, says the Lord,
and you also will testify.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Jn 15:26—16:4a

Jesus said to his disciples: 
“When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father,
the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father,
he will testify to me.
And you also testify,
because you have been with me from the beginning.

“I have told you this so that you may not fall away.
They will expel you from the synagogues;
in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you
will think he is offering worship to God.
They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me.
I have told you this so that when their hour comes
you may remember that I told you.”

– – –

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

How He Speaks

Upon first reading of, well, the First Reading, it would appear that it’s just another story of Paul sharing the Good News and building up the early Church. That’s all well and good (I mean, where would we be right now without the work of the early disciples?) but one might become more concerned with how they would pronounce the cities Troas and Samothrace instead of what they can take from the reading and they might miss this gem of a verse. 

“…and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what Paul was saying.” 

I think we can find ourselves in two positions within this verse – that of the woman whose heart was opened and that of Paul who was evangelizing. 

Let’s start with the woman. In our fallen human nature, how many times have our hearts been closed off to the ways and words of the Lord, whether it was due to our own sin or to our own ignorance? When we sin, when we choose things against the Lord, when we choose opposite of His will for our lives, we harden our hearts and seek the voice of the world instead. Or sometimes, we seek the voice of the Lord but we box Him in with our own expectations. We fail to hear the whisper in the wind when we are looking for the boom of the lightning bolt instead. 

Fear not, brothers and sisters, for the Lord is more powerful and more merciful than we often give Him credit for. He can bust down the largest and thickest walls built up around our hearts. There is no heart that he can’t open. He can, does and will speak to us, in His own way, in His own time. 

Now let’s look at how we are like Paul. Through our Baptism, we are each given the mission to proclaim the Good News and build up the kingdom of God – the same mission that was given to Paul and the early disciples. When we are evangelizing, we have to remember that it is the Lord who speaks through us. He’s working in the hearts of both parties, the one doing the speaking and the one doing the listening, because it’s His Good News. 

What is the Lord asking you to open your heart to? What is He asking you to pay attention to this week? This month? This year? What is He asking you to proclaim in your task of evangelization? These are questions we should all consider. 

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Erin is a Cleveland native and graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville. She is passionate about the Lord Jesus, all things college sports and telling stories and she is blessed enough to get paid for all three of her passions as a full-time youth minister and a freelance sports writer. You can catch her on old episodes of the Clarence & Peter Podcast on YouTube as well as follow her on Twitter @erinmadden2016.

Feature Image Credit: Henry & Co, https://unsplash.com/photos/M3KfixgdCko

Christ’s Love

Today’s readings are all about love, specifically love of God. In the First Reading we hear St. Peter tell Cornelius that “God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him”. It did (and does) not matter if a person was Gentile or Jew, all were accepted into the faith of Christ Jesus so long as there was genuine faith in Him. 

In the Second Reading John reminds us that God is love; it is only in Him and through Him that we know love. He loves us so much that He sent His only Son to die for our sins. And why? So we could live eternally with God in Heaven amidst the Trinitarian love of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is the love of the Trinity that compels and allows us to love others and bring them into the faith of Christ. We are called to participate in this Trinitarian love by bringing others into it. We show others the love of God by loving them. 

We hear even more about this love from Jesus in the Gospel. Christ Himself tells us that the love He shows us in his Passion and Death is the greatest love the whole world has ever known: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”. He then tells the Apostles that He is sending them out into the world to share the Good News and to share the love of Christ with others. In the same way, we are called to do what the Apostles did: spread the Gospel that says that God loved us so much that He sent His only Son to save us and that what He longs for is for us to take part in that love eternally. 

May we carry the love of Christ with us to all places and share His love with all people.

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Dakota currently lives in Denver, CO and teaches English Language Development and Spanish to high schoolers. She is married to the love of her life, Ralph. In her spare time, she reads, goes to breweries, and watches baseball. Dakota’s favorite saints are St. John Paul II (how could it not be?) and St. José Luis Sánchez del Río. She is passionate about her faith and considers herself blessed at any opportunity to share that faith with others. Check out more of her writing at https://dakotaleonard16.blogspot.com.

Feature Image Credit: Gera Juarez, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/15891-sagrado-corazon-jesus