Daily Reflection April 26 2008: Saturday the Fifth Week of Easter

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Collect of the Day:

Loving Father, through our rebirth in baptism you give us your life and promise of immortality. By your unceasing care, guide our steps towards the life of glory.

We make our prayer through Jesus Christ your Son Our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, ever One God world without end. Amen.

Today’s Readings:

The First Reading: Acts of the Apostles: 16:1-10: Come to Macedonia to help us.

The Gospel John: 15:18-21: You do not belong to the world because I have chosen you.

In today’s Gospel Jesus starts with the very ominous words:

“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me before you”.

He goes on to say:

“If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you too”.

These do not sound like too encouraging words, and I do not think that we shall find them written in literature designed to win souls for Christ or to gain new members to a Parish Community. But nonetheless they remain as true today as when Our Blessed Lord first spoke them nearly two thousand years ago. Living the Gospel principles without compromise is a very hard thing to do. In fact if not for the Grace of God, I would say nigh impossible.

If we stay true to Jesus’s message of unconditional love and acceptance, repaying evil with good, loving our enemies, blessing those who curse us, accepting those deemed unacceptable, turning no one away from the ‘Table of the Lord’, we are bound to run into some kind of opposition. We must not let this though, deter us from our mission to be envoys to the world of God’s Love and Divine Mercy. To be a successful witness to the Gospel of Christ we must first realise that we cannot please both God and the World.

As Jesus says in today’s Gospel:

“If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you do not belong to the world, because my choice withdrew you from the world, therefore the world hates you”.

So many Churches today try to water down the message of the Gospel because of numbers in the pews or lack thereof. Few Churches today would allow the young rich ruler to walk away. Someone would chase him and say Christ would accept fifty percent of his life or even ten percent so as long as he kept coming and added to the numbers on their annual reports.

Numbers in pews or on statistical records are not the important issue here, rather the quality of the message we preach and how we live it even when it is not the done thing or popular choice. We are told in 2 Timothy 4:2:

“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction”.

It is so easy for the Church group or individual Christian to descend to the level of a saleperson, using slick techniques that require the inquirer to make minimum changes, if any to their way of living. Was this the Gospel that the Apsotles preached that “Turned the world upsidedown?” I think not. Jesus said catergoricaly to make ‘Disciples’ not ‘Converts’.

I truly wonder how long a Christian can sit on the fence of compromise, God will not be mocked. We must regardless of the times in which we live, begin to love one another in the fullest sense of Christ’s teachings not counting the cost. Christ told us that either we are “For Him or against Him” So I ask are we really with Him? Are we ready to lay our lives on the line of His law of love with its fantastic dimensions of dispossesion and surrender? Do we truly love one another, beginning with ourselves?

Jesus’s call is revolutionary, there is no denying this fact. If we Christians implemented it, it would begin to change the world in a matter of weeks. Can you imagine a world where people are not judged by race, social standing, marital status, gender, age or affectional orientation, where all are recognised as being made in the image of God? This I believe is a Gospel worthy of being persecuted and hated for, and the first step of bringing this about belongs with each of us. As Margaret Mead tells us:

Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed citizens to change the world. Indeed, it has never been done otherwise.”

Msgr. Ian+

Closing Prayer:

Almighty, everliving God, you gave us the life of Heaven by the new birth of baptisim; you implanted in us the seed of eternity by your gift of grace. Lead us, in your providence, to the fulness of glory.

We make our prayer through Jesus Christ your Son Our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, ever One God world without end. Amen.

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