Posted by: frburke23 | April 29, 2013

Thought for Tuesday, 5th Week of Easter

Acts 14:19-28

In those days, some Jews from Antioch and Iconium
arrived and won over the crowds.
They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city,
supposing that he was dead.
But when the disciples gathered around him,
he got up and entered the city.
On the following day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.

After they had proclaimed the good news to that city
and made a considerable number of disciples,
they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch.
They strengthened the spirits of the disciples
and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying,
“It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships
to enter the Kingdom of God.” They appointed presbyters for them in each Church and,
with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord
in whom they had put their faith.
Then they traveled through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia.
After proclaiming the word at Perga they went down to Attalia.
From there they sailed to Antioch,
where they had been commended to the grace of God
for the work they had now accomplished.
And when they arrived, they called the Church together
and reported what God had done with them
and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.
Then they spent no little time with the disciples.

==============================================

I am struck as I read this passage from the Acts of the Apostles.  They stoned Paul, dragged him out of the city and left him for dead.  His fellow disciples gathered around him and he went right back into the city to continue spreading the Good News.   Wow!   Could I be that brave?

That sounds like a championship heavyweight boxer who gets knocked down and keeps getting up.  But this is something more incredible!  Paul literally had stones thrown at him!  This was not a sport.  This is a man that people hated for the message that he was preaching.  He knew that if he continued preaching Jesus’ name, he most likely would die.  This is a man full of the Holy Spirit and nothing was going to stop him from sharing the news of Jesus Christ raised from the dead.

I had the opportunity to travel to Colorado for my nephew’s Confirmation a few years ago.  The bishop was preaching about the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  He focused for a while on the gift of courage – that the Holy Spirit had given the early disciples of Jesus the gift of courage after the first Pentecost.  They preached the Good News of Jesus Christ raised from the dead without fear and without counting the costs.  Our faith is being persecuted today.  We live in a world that is more and more hostile to the Christian message.  And we must pray for the courage of the Holy Spirit to share our faith in an environment that is not always friendly or open to the Gospel.

It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.”  I’m sure we never thought we would have stones thrown at us for our faith, but we never know…  What would keep you from sharing the love of Jesus Christ with others?  Sometimes we don’t share our faith with others because they might think poorly of us or they might laugh at us.  Or maybe we are afraid of losing a friend.  Maybe someone will think we are a “Jesus freak”.  What am I willing to sacrifice for Jesus?

When you feel this way, think about what St. Paul did many years ago.   Think about what all of the martyrs have done throughout the ages.

What keeps me from sharing my faith?

Do I fear rejection or persecution?

Do I need to learn more about my faith so I can defend it?

May we be bold witnesses (martyr means witness) to our faith in the risen Christ and may we share His love with everyone we meet – using words or actions.

God bless,

Fr. Burke


Responses

  1. I will tell anybody about Jesus anytime anywhere!

    Sent from my iPhone

  2.  Fr. Burke, I know you are busy, but I would like to make the following answer to your question:

    What keeps me from sharing my faith?

    Answer:  The self-knowledge of my sinfulness.

    How do I get beyond it?

    My Spiritual Director told me there is Condemnation versus Conviction.  Condemnation comes from the evil spirits and should be rejected.  I should put on the Armour of God (Ephesians). Accept the Conviction which has been forgiven by Christ on the Cross.

    Mary Ann

    .

    ________________________________

    • Nancy, thanks for your thoughtful response to Mary Ann. It is important to be aware of our sinfulness. This leads us to contrition and seeking God’s mercy. However, the evil one wants us to be ashamed of our sins to the point where we focus only on our sinfulness and we stop encouraging one another to live the life of grace the Lord offers us all. I am painfully aware of my sinfulness, but at the same time, with God’s grace, the Lord calls me to love my neighbor. The greatest way I can love my neighbor is want heaven for them. If I see that someone is putting their soul in jeopardy by their sinful life, it is my responsibility to speak up, always in love. I don’t know if this helps…

      • Fr. Burke,
        You’re welcome. This is one reason why I miss Spirit and Truth so much… the faith sharing that is so necessary in helping us live out our Catholic faith. We all need encouragement to never give up!

        Peace and blessings,
        Nancy

  3. Mary Ann,
    I know you asked for Fr. Burke’s response, but if I might share with you, because I struggled for awhile with the same thing. And, I’d like to add that “Mark Hart (the Bible Geek)” posted to his Facebook page just recently, “Sin does not render Truth false.” (By the way, if you have a Facebook account, you can search him the exact same way as I put in quotes). He posts some short clips of talks he gives, as well. In other words, what I have come to discern through prayer and the Sacraments, is that God, through His Word and His Church, has given us a model of what we should live up to. At the same time, He knows our struggles, our sinful tendencies – hence He gave us the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. There is not one baptized Catholic out there who should not be receiving the Eucharist and Reconciliation often, because this is where we receive the grace to become strong in living out our Catholic faith “faithfully”. We begin to find ourselves able to turn away from sin more and more. You should be at peace, if you are receiving the grace, mercy and love of our Lord, through His gifts of the Sacraments and staying close to His Word and His Church. As a result, you can’t help, but want to then lead others to Him through the Sacraments. That’s the Holy Spirit alive in you! Unfortunately, most who may condemn you for lovingly trying to admonish them, are likely doing so, because they haven’t frequented these Sacraments as often as they should. The devil knows exactly how to put our defenses up. The sin of pride gets it’s feathers ruffled easily. Which is all the more that we should be on guard/aware of the spiritual battles we all fight within. How can I not extend mercy to my fellow brothers and sisters yet expect to run to Jesus to receive it for myself? It’s those who don’t receive the Sacraments – thinking they are not as bad as someone else – that keeps them from being humbled to realize their need of God’s mercy in their lives just as everyone else. That is what is missing in this world. The devil is quite cunning and has deceived us to the point where nobody wants to be admonished, nobody wants to be told what to do Nobody wants to be told that they are not acting “Christianly” – “Don’t judge me”, is the response you hear all of the time. Admonishing is not judging. Admonishing shows great love for a soul. Yet, in Scripture, there is talk of admonishing out of love and concern for one another.

    Matthew 18:15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.

    Notice, however, that it says “just between the two of you”… keep the matter private… Today’s world, we draw crowds in to point out faults/sins of others. The media is a great at doing that… of that, does not bring healing, but shame and embarrassment. Jesus wants us to heal, not be shamed, guilty, embarrassed. He wants to forgive us and see us turn our lives around. Then, He wants us to help others do the same. So, we must pray for the wisdom to admonish with love and in the appropriate settings. One on one conversation… not spreading gossip about others. The more you change within, the more you are able to help others change too… and the more our world changes for the better, the happier and safer and pleasant it will feel. God knows everything we need! We just have to accept and admit the Truth! His peace be with you, Mary Ann! I hope that helps you.


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