April 30, 2018
by Mike Cherney
Creighton University's Physics Department
click here for photo and information about the writer

Monday of the Fifth Week of Easter
Lectionary: 285

Acts 14:5-18
Psalms 115:1-2, 3-4, 15-16
John 14:21-26

Celebrating Easter

Easter Prayer for Today

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Emmaus: Feeling Our Hearts Burning with Hope

Prayer to the Holy Spirit

In the account from Acts, Paul and Barnabas experience a mission that was not exactly what one might have scripted. In today’s Gospel Jesus is preparing his disciples for the future. In my reflection, I find myself reminded of the idea that an understanding of Jesus’ message flows from the insight and change of heart that the Spirit brings.

I am drawn to thinking forward in the liturgical year to Pentecost and the influence of the Holy Spirit. In a context occurring well before the events in Jesus’ life that will test the disciples’ faith, the Gospel promises the gift of the Holy Spirit. The events in Acts go against my naïve expectations of how the Holy Spirit works. At the start of today’s first reading Paul and Barnabas chose to flee from a hostile crowd. They later faced an awkward situation in which the cure of a crippled man leads to Paul and Barnabas being identified as Hermes and Zeus.

Fortitude and wisdom are two gifts of the Holy Spirit. My first thought was that Paul and Barnabas may have been lacking in fortitude when they chose to flee Iconium. On reflection, I am reminded that the meaning of fortitude is courage in adversity, not strength of will. I realize how often, in what I have felt to be matters of principle, I have failed to use prudence (that is wisdom) in my interactions. Paul and Barnabas certainly did not give up. They invested their time and effort where it would have greater impact. It would be St. Paul who would establish Christianity in the Roman Empire by his subsequent missionary journeys. It should be added that flight was not Paul’s natural response; if one continues with the verse following today’s first reading, the consequences of Paul’s not getting out of trouble’s way becomes apparent.

The latter portion of today’s passage from Acts reminds me that how I understand things now is impacted by the way that I understood things in the past. Paul’s actions at Lystra are interpreted by the crowd in the religious context with which they were familiar. I can feel Paul’s frustration, but I can also understand the crowd’s response. I find myself considering how the actions and words of Christian missionaries throughout the ages may have initially seemed confusing to communities who sought to understand from the standpoint of their cultural perspectives.

My prayer today focusses on an understanding of the Christian message from the change of heart that the Holy Spirit brings. I pray for the strength to overcome the limitations brought about by my personal disposition.

Dear Lord,
Help me to open my heart to Your words and to Your Spirit.
Free me from my existing biases and misunderstandings.
Give me the direction in my actions that wisdom can bring.
Support me with the endurance needed to properly invest my time and effort.

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