Day 173 – June 22

Today’s Readings:

1 Chronicles 23-24
Acts 6
Job 17

…select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge (of the daily distribution of food) … –  Acts 6:3

As the Church begins to grow, it experiences the pains that come with the growth of any institution, and it begins to form a little bit of structure to take care of the daily tasks. It says a lot that  the first appointments in the Church were to service to those in need. This has been a hallmark of the Church since its foundations, read today in the acts of the apostles. The structure was needed because more were coming go believe in Jesus through the disciples.

Structure is a necessary part of organizing ourselves to fulfill the mission given to us. Where we sometimes get turned upside down is when we forget the purpose of the structure and sustain it for its own sake rather than for the sake of the Gospel. Let us then, ask Jesus to give us the gift to keep our mission – to make Jesus known and loved – as the center of all of our planning and service, for it is for his beloved poor we are called.

May God bless you.

Day 172 – June 21

Today’s Readings:

1 Chronicles 21-22
Acts 5:22-42
Job 16

…calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. – Acts 5:40-42

Suffering. No one likes discomfort, let alone to be in pain. In today’s reading from Job, we hear of his turmoil, not understanding why this devastation befell him. He has thoroughly examined his conscience, and in his heart he can find no reason for the punishments he is enduring. Yet, he holds on to the hope he will be vindicated by God.

From the Book of Acts, we find the disciples of Jesus rejoicing in their suffering, that “they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.”

Here, we find two examples where people are enduring pain of some sort, both having done nothing evil to deserve their current condition. We know people in our lives who live this reality and when approached with the question of ‘why bad things happen to good people?’ we are at a loss to make sense of it all. It is one of the great mysteries facing humanity as we contemplate the attribute of God.

Does God bring calamity? In Job’s case we are privy to see the background to what is happening. We see God so confident in his creation – Job – that he allows Satan to have his way. God is confident that through Job’s suffering Satan will be put to shame and God will be glorified. But if we look at it from Job’s perspective, it would be reasonable that he would begin to doubt God’s goodness. Job’s saving grace is a thread of hope that he holds on to. Despite his current condition, he finds the strength to trust in God’s wisdom, knowing in humility he doesn’t see as God sees.

What do we say when we meet the Jobs in our lives? Those in a state of questioning must come to find the answers on their own, but we can help them immensely by journeying with them, supporting them in their uncertainty. And pray. The story of Job is not finished, and when it is, all will be revealed. And the same for those we love who find themselves or someone dear to them in a similar state. Our stories are not over, and God is working through our misery, knowing full well through His entering into our human story giving us the sign of the Cross. Yes, God understands fully our suffering, and takes it upon Himself to help us carry the burden until all is revealed in Eternity.

May God bless you.

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.