I’ve always wanted to speak a foreign language. But unfortunately I never had the gift of being able to learn a language other than my own. Imagine if you could instantly begin speaking, and understanding, a whole new language, without years of study.
This is exactly what happened to the Apostles who had all come together to celebrate the festival of Pentecost.
“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs–in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.” But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’”
These verses tell us how the apostles received power through a baptism of the Holy Spirit. This fulfilled the promise Jesus had made to them just before his ascension (Acts 1:8). Let’s examine them further.
2:1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.
Pentecost (the feast of weeks) is a Jewish festival day, the 50th day after the Passover. (The name Pentecost means fifty.) There is some debate whom “they” refers to in this verse. Was it only the apostles mentioned in the previous verse Acts 1:26? Or was it the 120 persons mentioned earlier (Acts 1:15).
2:2 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.
This sound symbolizes the power of the Holy Spirit. In the Bible, the words for wind and for spirit are similar. In the Greek the word for Spirit πνευμα, pneuma, comes from πνεω, pneo, to blow air. The sound was therefore appropriate.
2:3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.
2:4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability
These divided tongues were symbolic of the languages or “tongues” that have divided human beings since the Tower of Babel. The Spirit’s gift of tongues would now enable the apostles to preach in the languages of every nation under heaven.
2:5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem.
God chose a very appropriate and opportune time to establish the church of Christ and begin the spread of the gospel throughout the world. The city was filled with “many… pious men from every nation”. What better audience could there have been? And who exactly were these Jews? The name “Jews” means Judeans —the the remnant of Jacob’s descendants living in Judea and its capital Jerusalem. This was the only surviving part of the large kingdom of Israel over which David and Solomon had ruled.
2:6 And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.
2:7 Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?
This was the honest reaction of each person to what they personally observed. A sense of awe came over them. This reaction gives us the best measure of the miracle that occurred.
2:8 And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?
Each person heard the gospel in his or her own native language because the apostles were speaking those languages (Acts 2:4). The miracle was in the speaking described in verse 4, not in the hearing mentioned here in verse 8. The hearing was normal and natural hearing, but the speaking was a miraculous gift given to the apostles by the power of the Holy Spirit. The miraculous ability to speak in languages one has never learned is known as xenoglossia.
2:12 All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?“
Their amazement was short lived. A measure of disbelief and doubt set in. They asked, “What can this mean?” They started trying to find some explanation that might show that their eyes and ears were being tricked into imagining things. This is a sad reaction, because it reveals their lack of expectation, their unpreparedness for Messiah, their slowness of heart to believe all that the prophets had spoken.
2:13 But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”
Some people are such skeptics and scoffers, that they make up any explanation, no matter how silly. “These men are full of sweet wine!” was the best they could do? They made no effort to test this hypothesis, because they knew it wouldn’t fit the facts. Peter’s rejoinder, “It is only the third hour of the day!” (Ac 2:15). was a mocking of the mockery. The real answer did not need to be spoken, for the miracle spoke for itself. It was obvious that these men were not alcoholics drunk in the morning. Peter left it unsaid that no drunkard could do what Peter and his fellows were doing.
2:14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say.
2:15 Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning.
Peter is a changed man. At the arrest of Jesus, he denied his Lord (Matthew 26:33-75), but now he is standing strong and speaking with boldness and authority. It was insulting to say that these devout men were drunk at all, let alone at such an early hour. Yet some were mocking and calling out, “These men are full of new wine” (Acts 2:13).
2:16 No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
2:17 ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.
2:18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.
Peter quotes Joel 2:28-32 which predicts the giving of the Holy Spirit. This was such a powerful gift that many wonders and signs and miracles occurred, one of which was the xenoglossia being witnessed by all who heard the apostles preaching in many foreign languages (Acts 2:4-11).
2:19 And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
2:20 The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
This part of Joel’s prophecy (Joel 2:30-31) is usually regarded as figurative; nevertheless Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection were attended by signs and wonders not unlike those that Joel describes (Matthew 27:45,50-54).
2:21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
Here at the beginning of Peter’s sermon, we have the idea of people calling on God. At the end of Peter’s sermon we have the reverse: God calling people (Acts 2:39). Likewise, Paul quotes the same passage about people calling on the name of the Lord to be saved (Romans 10:12-14). And he also teaches the reverse when he calls the saved “those who are called” (Romans 8:28). Being saved involves being called by God and calling upon God. Through Peter’s preaching, God called people so that they might call on God.
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be always acceptable to you O Lord, our God and our Creator. Amen.
At the heart of today’s gospel is a message which is absolutely key to our walk as Christians; is it greater to be a servant of Christ or His friend? This is much more than a question of mere semantics but instead is one that we must each answer for ourselves and one that will colour our walk with the Lord.
When I first took a quick glance at today’s gospel my mind was immediately drawn to the concept of servanthood; servanthood to the work of Christ? I sat and started to contemplate this question and my mind was immediately drawn to the many great saints of our Church, to Saint Dominic, Saint Francis, Saint Theresa of Calcutta and the many others who stand in God’s presence. As I contemplated I began to see that in each of their lives the calling to sainthood seemed to be a calling to servanthood; each of the saints that came to mind had given up all that they had to take up the cross of Christ and to serve Him, His people and the Church with all that they had. If that isn’t the calling of a devoted servant to Christ then what is?
At this point in my preparation I thought I had exactly what I was going to share with you today; the message that the calling to Christian perfection (sainthood/salvation) is the calling of every Christian and that as such we should all be devoted servants of God. However, I then sat down and re-read the Gospel and it was then that I realised there was a much greater question that needed to be answered before I could share this message; is the path to Christian perfection really servanthood or is it something far more sublime, friendship.
In the reading we heard today at Mass Christ seems to turn the obvious pattern of sainthood on its head! Despite the fact that the lives of the Saints seem to be lives of servanthood we are told that perfection is found in friendship; why is this?
Let’s for a moment where the word servant comes from; it finds its origins in the same place as the word slave. To be a servant is to be a slave and as anyone who has studied the history of the world knows very few have become slaves by choice! Instead slaves are taken by force and live a life of servanthood not out of devotion to their master but out of fear; is this the life that Christ wants His followers to have? Absolutely not and the Gospel today makes that very clear!
Instead of asking us to be His slaves Christ instructs us that He wants us to be his friends! The motives of a friend are far holier and purer that those of a servant; a friend acts out of love and devotion, an internal desire to do good for you. If we are friends of Christ in the purest sense then we will want to do as He commands and will walk the path that leads to salvation. In fact it is this friendship that Christ extended to us on the cross, that has motivated those saints that have appeared to act like servants, and that Christ asks of each of us now.
Will you look to Christ as your friend? Will you incline your heart towards the cross and accept the love that Christ has for you? It’s my greatest prayer that each and every one of us, in accepting the love and friendship of Christ, will be motivated to share that love with others and to act as true friends of Christ. If we do that each of us will come to love him with such devotion and total abandon that we will one day be counted amongst the great number of nameless saints who worship before the throne of God.
This week I ask that each of us contemplate what it means to be a friend of Christ and ask ourselves how we can reform out lives to better serve Christ, His people, and His Holy Church.
Let us pray:
Lord God, we thank you for the great gift of friendship that you have extended to us in your son Jesus Christ. We pray that we may always live lives that are worthy of Christ and of the great love He has for us. May you kindle in us a desire to always act out of friendship and in doing so may we walk closer to Christ and in a closer bond of love with our brothers and sisters. Help us to always be motivated by pure desires and to strive always to walk in the paths of holiness.
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
“Go into the world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.”
According to the Apostle Mark, immediately before this, Jesus had admonished, again, his disciples for their refusal to believe those who had seen him after the crucifixion. In Acts, Luke has told us that they asked if Jesus was going to restore the kingdom to Israel, and Jesus tells them it’s none of their business to know when these things are going to happen.
Well! What is a person to do? It seems they can’t win with their friend who criticizes them at almost every turn.
Some commentators have suggested that the rest of today’s Gospel was added later to soften the harshness that was apparently spoken by Jesus to the disciples. Certainly, this time, after the Resurrection, must have been extremely trying for these simple disciples. They were to take everything on faith, yet they had not been given the grace to rely on faith. That was to come.
So again, what is a person to do? Aren’t there lots of mixed messages here? Don’t we face mixed messages ourselves every day, much less in our own bibles?
Without going into Bible Exegesis, let me just say that what we have been given is an amalgam of many writers, persuasions, and missions, all to explain what happened when a rabbi in Roman times in Israel lived and taught among his people. Yes, there are contradictions, even some harsh words, but there is one concept that Jesus is reported as having promulgated eleven times: Love one another.
And remember, he was working with regular folks, not the most learned or sophisticated. And sometimes they didn’t understand what he was saying or doing. Therefore, in the second reading, we learn that different people were given different tasks: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers. Similarly, in Acts 4:32-35 we find that distribution of goods “was made unto every man according as he had need.”
So, in today’s readings, we find many different points of view, admonitions, desires, all of which can be encompassed by the two events celebrated today, the Ascension, and next week, Pentecost. Remember, they were not yet possessed of the Holy Spirit as promised by Jesus. And they were losing their teacher, friend, and master. How could they not have been anxious and confused?
We today, must remember the one commandment that Jesus gave us time and again: Love one another.
Listen to the readings and Gospel stories throughout the year. All can be encompassed in that new commandment. And the Apostles reported this time and again. The early followers of Jesus loved one another, took care of each other, and showed the world they were Christians by their acts of charity and sacrifice.
Still, they were, and we are, humans. They were, and we are subject to the vicissitudes of daily existence. Sometimes overwhelmed. Sometimes afraid. Always in need of God’s graces. So, in the first reading, aren’t we given a measure of hope? Before the Holy Spirit’s descent, they were given this hope: “This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.”
Throughout the Bible we are given these little moments of hope, of promise. Today, the Feast of the Ascension, we can feel the loss the disciples felt. When I was a child, I always felt bereft on this day, losing Jesus. I could empathize with those disciples and felt their anguish.
Well, you know, we’ve heard over and over: “When one door closes, a window is opened.” That’s what the love Jesus taught us is about too. We are never really alone. All we have to do is remember the new commandment: Love one another. Like the Apostles, if we are fulfilling our mission as Christians, the very act of seeking out those who need our love opens many, many windows for us.
Lord, today give us the peace we seek, and the comfort of your promises, and show us the way to love one another.
Back when I was a seminary student and living in West Virginia, an Episcopal Priest friend of mine told me a story.
Fresh out of Seminary himself, Fr. Dale considered himself quite the Liturgical, Theological and Musical snob. Being in a Baptist dominated community, he would regularly get requests to sing the hymn, “In the Garden.” This is one that my congregation sings almost every Sunday at the nursing home.
Fr. Dale would go on a rant about how this is a hymn that one ought not to sing.
Why would Christians, whose biblical faith values community far above individualism, who have heard Jesus’ explicit command to deny self and live for others; why would they ever sing, “He walks with me, talks with me, tells me I am his own”? Some years later, a Baptist clergy friend of his helped knock him off his high horse when he heard his rant about that hymn and quoted some familiar words: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters,” and so on.
Touché! Of course, we have a personal relationship with God, but still, Fr. Dale thought the word “private” is rarely a helpful word in communities of faith. As an aside, that reasoning is why “In the Garden” still has never appeared in an Episcopal hymnal.
One night Fr. Dale was called to the hospital by the family of an elderly parishioner who was struggling in his last hours. He rushed to the hospital, and he waited for all of his children to arrive; and when all of them were there, they all held hands around his bed and commended him to Jesus and prayed for his peaceful passing. This dear old man looked up and smiled, and then he spoke. He spoke last words. “I love every one of you. I’m ready to go. And I love Fr. Dale, too, and I love his voice and I know he’ll sing “In the Garden” for you at my funeral. Whereupon in that very instant he flat-lined on the monitor and died. Through tears, the oldest son looked at Fr. Egg On His Face and said, “Thank you, Father. Daddy always loved that song!”
And this, my wise friend told me, is how we know God has a sense of humor!
In no construction of reality that you could conjure would he ever have considered, especially not publicly as a solo, singing that song in a worship service over which he presided! But he got trumped. Trumped by love and the power of last words. And at the man’s funeral, his face red with embarrassment and feeling the effects of his humble pie, Fr. Dale sang, “and He walks with me and he talks with me.” The whole thing. With feeling.
Several years back while Ken Burns was doing research for a PBS series on the Civil War, a professor sent him a little-known letter written by a Rhode Island soldier to his wife Sarah. The author, Sullivan Ballew, had a premonition of his own death, and he wrote to his wife:
“The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days, perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write a few lines that may fall under your eyes when I shall be no more. Sarah, my love for you is deathless. It seems to bind me with mighty cables that nothing but omnipotence could break. The memories of the blissful moments that I have spent with you come creeping over me. I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them for so long, and hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years when, God willing, we might still have lived and loved together and seen our sons grown up to honorable manhood around us. If I do not return, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.”
The imminence of death is indeed sacred ground, and in those moments, we cling to last words in hopes of gleaning some meaning, some promise, some legacy. Every transition, every transformation, is a death of sorts, as well as a new birth. For something new to be fully born, something old must die. It’s the way of the world. Even the transitions we welcome are always bittersweet. Having cared for many children in the past, I think of the series of last words with which we bombarded them…before first getting on the school bus, before driving the car alone, before that first date, before going off to college.
But dying words are in a league of their own! How about you? If you could say just a few last words as you knew you were dying, to whom would they be addressed and what would they be? I’m guessing that somewhere in those last words would be a heartfelt “I love you,” as well as some sincere request like “take care of your brother,” or “live your life to the fullest.”
Chapters 13-17 of John’s gospel are Jesus’ earthly life last words to his disciples as he prepares them for a major transition. Something new, the ministry of the disciples and the church, is about to be born; and as with all births, something, namely Jesus himself, must die. In that holy ground context, Jesus says, “As the Father has loved me, so I love you, and so you should love one another.” What is it that matters when all else, including life itself, is said and done? What is the most compelling, the most powerful, the most enduring force in all the universe? What, as we prepare both for living and dying, becomes the echoing refrain? LOVE! Not the normal “What do I get out of it?” kind of love we usually mean when we use the word. Jesus was specifically commending to his followers agape love, the unconditional and self-sacrificing love that he himself exemplifies.
How does one measure such love? “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends,” for the beloved. Last words matter. They are precious. Of all that Jesus might have said, he chooses love and relationship, even as he chooses us in love and sends us into the world to be love. This love is not a feeling or inclination, but obedience to his commandment to choose to love others as God has chosen to love us.
Sullivan Ballew was killed seven days after he wrote that letter, at the 1st battle of Bull Run.
“When my last breath escapes, it will whisper your name, Sarah.” And the next day after Jesus shared his parting words, he was crucified, his last breath on the cross and first breath in the resurrection whispering your name…your forgiveness.
“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.” It is your name he whispers before you’re formed in your mother’s womb, in the waters of baptism, around the altar, in the Word, and in the fellowship of Christ’s people.
It is your name, no matter how far you may wander, that if you pause to listen you will always hear. “Listen to me, Child. I love you. And now your only job is to share that love.” The first, and the last, word is love. Amen.
Let us pray. Gracious Lord God, we give you thanks for every precious gift and blessing that you shower on us so abundantly. But most especially, we thank you for the precious gift, the relationship with you which we could never deserve, but in which you call us and love us anyway, and also the precious relationships with others to which you command us in love. Help us to be your loving children. Help us to be aware of the needs of others and to serve them as your church and your people. In the name of Christ we ask it. Amen
Acts 9:26-31 and John 3:18-24
Christ is Risen, my beloved brothers and sisters, He is truly Risen! Alleluia
Dear brothers and sisters of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ, in this fifth Sunday of Eastertide, the reading from the Apostle remind us of how good and big example is Barnabas in a very difficult situation at the moment of the event. This reminds me of one example of the Gospel, that we are all branches together of a big tree, if Barnabas is the finger of the hand, imagine how this finger have fixed such difficult situation, from the Apostle reading that as zealous Pharisee, Saul became a vehement opponent of Christianity, Saul had a life-changing encounter with the Risen Lord Jesus Christ, The result is that he not only become a Christian but eventually Apostle Paul.
When you were a kid, who was the bully in your school or in your neighborhood? When have some friends helped you out of a bad situation? The disciples of Jerusalem fear and distrust Saul, Barnabas courage to step forward and speak up for Saul in the community.
I ask myself how I would feel if I was part of a church when the convert has a bad reputation and been a lot of gossip about the person, would I feel fear that is some kind of infiltration? Or i would rejoice in his claim to faith and welcome him with open arm and in the meanwhile, I will keep a close eye on him.
Barnabas is a model of a servant of God and his people, his example is so needed today in our churches, oratories, temples, shrines, communities, neighborhoods and families. Barnaba encouraging you, helping you to feel accepted. When last time has been encouraged someone? Whom have you served as a Barnabas, encouraging and helping people feel accepted in your parish or society, this example is useful in any situation. Many people face hardest to be accepted by families, schools, youth groups, parties, social gatherings, the opposite or same-sex other groups etc.
“Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the verdict, that the light came into this world, but people preferred darkness to light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, o that his works may be clearly seen as done in God. After this, Jesus and his disciples went into the region of Judea, where he spent some time with them baptizing. John was also baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was an abundance of water there, and people come to be baptized, for John had not yet been imprisoned.”
Some people live in darkness, and they can’t find the light, there is still lot of me that I want to hide in the darkness but I want to leave the darkness, but the light hurts my eyes, the more I want to follow the light the brighter it becomes, and I am completely open to Gods light and I am grateful for it.
To receive Christ’s promise of new life I need to stop being ridiculous, literal and rational, but to ask God to forgive me, for some things, to renew me, to forgive myself for some things, to open my heart for Jesus, to renew my vows before Him.
Christ is Risen, He is Truly Risen! Rejoice! Alleluia.
Reading 1: Acts 4:8-12.
R Psalm: PS 118: 1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 28, 29.
Reading 2: 1 JN 3: 1-2.
Gospel: JN 10: 11-18.
Our Lord tells us very clearly that his sheep hear his Voice. He knows them all and they follow him. He also tells us that not one of us can ever be snatched from His hand. The only way we shall leave his hand is if we deliberately turn away and choose to leave it. If we go astray, Our Shepherd will always come looking for us to return us safely to his fold. However, the Lord will never force us to return, he respects our freedom to choose, although he loves us so much.
It is essential as children of God to often ask ourselves if we indeed are truly hearing the voice of Our Lord and are truly following him. In today’s world, it is all too easy to get distracted, or to say we are truly listening to him by making excuses such as, “I attend church”, or ” I don’t commit the bad sins of others”, but to truly listen and follow takes far more than this. If we don’t listen to him constantly in our hearts and lives, and only listen to his voice either out of habit or routine, or only listen when we choose to do so, then we are not truly listening to his voice at all.
It is vital that if we are truly listening, that we have him as first in our lives. It is far too easy to get into a pattern of attending church, hearing the scriptures, and praying as a habitual routine, rather than truly taking the time to hear the Lord’s voice speaking to us.
When was the last time you opened and read the bible on your own accord? The Bible is full of love letters from God for us, and if we are truly listening to his voice, it tells us all we need to know. I don’t mean reading the bible out of habit, but to truly take the time to listen and to hear what the Lord, our Shepherd, is telling us.
Today, I wish to issue a challenge in the name of the Lord, that we ask ourselves honestly how hard we actually try to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd. We are called to listen, to follow, and to serve him, not out of habit or ritual, but because he is our true Shepherd, our Lord who loves us and who gives salvation to all who truly listen and follow him.
Let us pray:
Good Shepherd of the flock, you tend and feed and protect your chosen people and only ask us to listen and to put our trust in your loving care. As host, you welcome us to your table and anoint us with your Holy Spirit. Let us be ever thankful for your blessings O Shepherd and Saviour, and to always truly hear and follow your voice.
Do you remember when we were kids and our parents would tell us to not do that thing because if we did, we would cause all manner of problems AND get into trouble? And because we were us, we went right ahead and did that thing and we caused all manner of problems and got into trouble. And our parents said, “I told you so.”
And, poor Scott. Sometimes I feel so bad for him. He has it rough. You see, he lives with me. And one of my very, very, very favorite things to say to him is, “I told you so.” (Scott is much smarter and a heckuva lot wiser than I am, but do you think I’d let HIM know that? Uh unh. I ain’t doin’ it.)
And of course, there are those (infrequent, oh so very infrequent!) times Scott gets to say to me, “I told you so.” (I hate that.)
So why do we not listen? Why do we not accept what we are told? Why must we, in our (self-centeredness) have to learn the hard way that what God says, He means? Or do we ever learn? As many of you know, Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 8:28 are two of my very favorite verses of Scripture. Both of them give us assurance that God has things well in hand and that we really don’t need to worry about things. And God has proved himself over and over and over and over ad infinitum in my life. He has cared for me when I had nothing else. He has shown Himself faithful and true and proved to me that I have no need to worry. So WHY do I worry? Why can I not get it through my head that I have no need to worry, I have no need to doubt? I would dare say that many of you have had similar experiences.
Whatever the answer to that question is, we are in good company. Over and over and over again, throughout the Hebrew and Christian scriptures both, we continually hear God tell us, “Have I not told you… I told you….” In the Gospel reading for today, when Cleopas and another disciple are on their way to Emmaus, Jesus appears to them and teaches them and says to them (are you ready) “I told you so.” (Well, actually, according the NIV He said, “ “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Luke 24:25) They recognized Jesus and he disappeared and then they hightailed it back to Jerusalem, straight to the disciples. And as they were telling the disciples what had happened, Jesus appeared to them all. They were, of course, amazed, frightened, excited!!!!! And what did Jesus say? He said, “I told you so.” (NIV: “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.”Luke 24:44) Now, these weren’t your every day, run of the mill, ordinary disciples. These were THE DISCIPLES; hand picked by Jesus, his closest companions. They who had witnessed miracles first hand. And they had trouble getting with the program and believing. But ya know, Jesus then gave them yet another chance, kinda started from the beginning again, and did a reteach. (NIV: Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” Luke 24:45-48)
How awesome is that? Even after all the things the disciples had seen, had witnessed, had had first- hand experience with, Jesus taught them yet again. And so it is with us. When we truly desire to increase our faith, when we truly seek another chance to learn the lessons that Christ teaches us, He will always, always give us another chance to try again. It is up to us to continually open ourselves to learning those lessons. The hymnist, Clara H. Scott certainly had the words right when she wrote in 1895:
Open my eyes, that I may see
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key
That shall unclasp and set me free.
Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready my God, Thy will to see,
Open my eyes, illumine me,
Open my ears, that I may hear
Voices of truth Thou sendest clear;
And while the wave notes fall on my ear,
Everything false will disappear.
Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready my God, Thy will to see,
Open my ears, illumine me,
Open my mind, that I may read
More of Thy love in word and deed;
What shall I fear while yet Thou dost lead?
Only for light from Thee I plead.
Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready my God, Thy will to see,
Open my mind, illumine me,
Open my mouth, and let me bear,
Gladly the warm truth everywhere;
Open my heart and let me prepare
Love with Thy children thus to share.
Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready my God, Thy will to see,
Open my heart, illumine me,
It is my hope and prayer that each of us open ourselves to learn the lessons that God teaches us, and that we do our utmost to learn, and to live those lessons. Amen.