Reflection for Friday, May 30, 2003: 6th week in Easter.

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Fortina, Deb
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Acts 18:9-18" ... the Lord said to him (Paul) in a vision, 'Do not be afraid. Go on speaking, and do not be silent, for I am with you. No one will attack and harm you, for I have many people in this city.' ... "||Psalm 47: 2 -7 " ... shout to God with cries of gladness, for the Lord, the Most High, the awesome, is the great king over all the earth. ... "||John 16: 20-23 "Jesus said to his disciples: ... 'So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.' ... "|In an overall way the readings today speak words of encouragement to remain strong and confident in Christ's teachings and in our Catholic Church, despite the deriding attempts by others to stifle our joy. Occasionally we hear of instances of people enduring great suffering, but they are not able to remember the experience. (Upon rescuing Private Jessica Lynch from her Iraqi captivity we learned that she couldn't recall her specific early capture experience.) So too the example in today's gospel from John, as a mother forgets the pain of delivering a child we will forget the suffering that is often attached with following Jesus. In the reading in John, Jesus has just told the disciples that he will be leaving them, but that when he leaves he will send the Advocate (His Spirit, the Paraclete) to "guide them to all Truth." (John 16:13) Our readings say that through our life on earth, we will weep and mourn, but we will not question Christ about anything when He comes again.|In the reading in Acts, Christ says to Paul in a vision "Do not be afraid. Go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you." (Acts 18:9) In the days of the early Church, Paul's fears were for his own life; and still today, many Christians throughout the world are losing their lives for the sake of spreading the Gospel message. For many others our suffering comes from being misunderstood, living in a world where people have not heard or have forgotten Christ's message.|So we are reminded that Christ will be with us too as the need for people hearing the message of the Gospel remains great even today. Yet through personal experience we have been turned off by someone trying to push their beliefs onto us or someone we know. So how do we spread the Word effectively today? To be prepared to discuss your Faith you must understand it, so keep learning all you can by staying in God's Word and by studying the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Christ taught by example, so it will probably always be more effective to show people how Christ would treat them. St. Francis of Assisi has been quoted as saying "Preach the Gospel at all times; if necessary use words."|Yes, we are to walk confidently in our Lord, preaching His Gospel by doing His good works, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and caring for the poor in Spirit. We have modern day examples of the teaching-by-example method of spreading God's Word, besides St. Francis, we can look at Mother Theresa's life of charity. With the love of Christ in her heart, she taught so capably and taught many about our Faith. In the Lord Jesus Christ, she met all wherever they were at - Mother Theresa was a great modern day teacher.|May we never forget the prize at the end of our journey, and let us be faithful to our Catholic Christian teachings for "God is King of all the earth." (Psalm 47:3)
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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