Day 171 – June 20

Today’s Readings:

1 Chronicles 19-20
Acts 5:1-21
Job 15

“Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came over all who heard of it. – Acts 5:4-5

Such a vivid scene in the Acts of the Apostles today. Ananias and Sapphira made a decision to sell some of their property and give proceeds to the Church. It seems they had discussed it together, about how much they would give. Then the early Church witnesses something fearful. When Ananias comes in and lays their tribute at the feet of Peter, he is struck by God on the spot. Indeed, a fearful scene. To understand this passage, we must consider the intention that led to their demise.

Did they die for keeping part of the profits for themselves? Were they really expected to lay their whole livelihood down for the use of the community? Coming to Peter, they let the community assume they were giving everything. There was no sin in withholding part of the money for themselves, but they intended to deceive the community in order to accept honor by the community for their generosity.

Peter, perhaps by the Holy Spirit, saw through the deception, and called the husband and wife out. Lies, greed, and deception are not the Christian Way. We see in today’s reading the couple’s intention to deceive, but oftentimes, we start out not even thinking along those lines, but then one assumes what is not fully true, and by our silence we can be liable to sin of deception; we allow the untruth (which maybe puts our actions in better light than reality) to be believed rather than correcting the misreading of our actions and intentions.

Let us be mindful, then, that our intentions behind our actions matter! Our intentions behind our words matter! God knows what is going on in our hearts, and wants us to be authentic in our thoughts and actions, as Jesus is.

May God bless you.

Day 170 – June 19

Today’s Readings:

1 Chronicles 17-18
Acts 4:23-37
Job 14

When they had been released, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God… – Acts 4:23-24

We’re picking up from yesterday’s reading of Peter and John being imprisoned, and they return to the small Christian community to tell of their experience. Naturally the others were happy and relieved that their companions have returned, but in the back of their minds they must have realized that this could have turned out badly for them. They could have gotten discouraged at seeing the path of following Jesus was not an easy road to walk. Rather than be taken over by fear, they lift their voices in prayer and praise to God.

This is the compelling message of the true Christian, and this message lives on today in the stories we hear of ISIS and terrorist groups who threaten and kill those who will not denounce Christ. Peter and John left a compelling message when they left their jail cell; they would not change their story to save their life. It pointed all the more to the truth of Jesus – that He was real and for them to denounce Him, who is Truth, would be worse than death.

Let us ask for the boldness of the early Christian community to live today in a spirit of the Early Church, a spirit of trust, prayer, and confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ.

May God bless you.

Day 169 – June 18

Today’s Readings:

1 Chronicles 15-16
Acts 4:1-22
Job 13

And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” – Acts 4:18-20

Today in the Book of Acts, we find Peter and John threatened if they do not stop speaking of the name of Jesus. What a change we see in Peter! He is no longer afraid to speak what He has seen and heard. His heart has been healed by receiving the mercy and forgiveness of the Lord at the seaside. He knows what it is to deny the truth; and He sees no reason to make the same mistake twice. The Holy Spirit has transformed this cowardly disciple into a man full of courage.

What are the moments in our lives we feel threatened to live our faith out in the open? To proclaim the Good News to all those we encounter?

Let us ask today for a special grace to live more for Jesus, like Paul and John, not afraid of what others may do to us; may we have reverent fear of losing souls meant for God, lost because we were afraid to speak the Holy Name, Jesus.

May God bless you.

Day 168 – June 17

Today’s Readings:

1 Chronicles 13-14
Acts 3
Job 12

“…it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all.” – Acts 3:16

“It is in the name of Jesus…” The one, sweet word brings strength to those who hear it with faith. But do we believe? Or are we content to remain at the gate like the beggar? Jesus wants to work through us, if only we lay our ‘power’ at the gate and let him reign in our souls.

May God bless you.

cb365

Day 167 – June 16

Today’s Readings:

1 Chronicles 11-12
Acts 2:22-47
Job 11

“Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.” – Acts 2:43-45

In these brief lines we have a snapshot of the early Church culture. They gathered for prayer. Had all things in common. Those with property would sell it and give the proceeds to the church to distribute according to need. But above all, they ‘kept feeling a sense of awe.’ If you have ever been able to walk through one of the European Cathedrals or Basilicas, you understand the word ‘awe’. You walk into a beautiful church that reaches upward towards the heavens and you rest from your dialogue to soak in the presence of the divine. This is something we do as an oasis experience, when we retreat from the world of our woes to the solace of God’s embrace.

What is the character of your church like? Is it working to take on the characteristics of the Early Church? Let us ask the Lord to help us shed what does not lead us into the divine mystery, so that our hearts may be free to lead one another to Christ and to His love.

May God bless you.

cb365