Day 174 – June 23

Today’s Readings:

1 Chronicles 25-26
Acts 7:1-21
Job 18

“Surely such are the dwellings of the wicked,
And this is the place of him who does not know God.” – Job 18:21

These words from Job are an accusal that would apply to two innocent, both Job and Stephen (from the Acts 7). Both men seem to be on trial for their faith that is misunderstood by their fellow believers. We’ve looked at Job before at how we only see the surface of his situation, God has allowed this calamity to befall his favorite son among men, and how Job is judged a sinner because of the devestation in his personal life. Then we have Stephen, a follower of Jesus, one of the seven deacons chosen in the early organization of the Church. Stephen was brought up against charges of blasphemy, probably due to jealousy, and brought false witnesses against him.

Two men, both condemned by their own people. The first due to misreading of the mystery of suffering judge their friend a sinner; the second propped up for a fall because his righteousness made others look ridiculous in their religiosity. And how do these two men respond? They cling to God come what may.

Many times we see opportunities to defend faith, and shy away because we don’t want to get entangled or lose friendships over a discrepancy of faith. Let us learn to choose when it is necessary to speak, and when it is prudent to refrain, not for our own sake, but for the good of the soul before us. May our Lord help us to know the difference.

May God bless you.

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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 71 – March 12

Today’s Readings:

Deuteronomy 1-2
Mark 13:1-20
Psalm 71

“You will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved.” – Mark 13:13

There is a story told of a prisoner during Hitler’s Germany, who was arrested because he stood for freedom. He was imprisoned and faced torture without complaining, and with great fortitude. Finally, he was released, with his spirit intact. He came to know that the informant that sent him to prison was in fact his own son. After which, he committed suicide. The betrayal of his own family was the worst torture, and he could not endure that (Barclay, Mark, p.313).

Jesus’ speaking of children rising up against parents, and parents turning in their children was nothing new to his listener; Old Testament texts tell of it. And, as individuals in the first century chose to become part of The Way, believing in Jesus as the Messiah, they knew full well that their choice would often oppose their family’s wishes. The tension of following Jesus was a reality that we can only hear of in stories. They knew that their choice to become a Christian was a choosing to take up a hard way of life. They knew they would be hated by some who just the day before were their friends and family.

It is in this context Saint Paul writes about needing endurance to run the race. To choose Christ, to live for Christ, is not a quick race; it is a marathon that takes place over the whole course of our lives. This may not be a race of outright hatred known to the early Christians; it is more likely to be opposition that is more subtle. But one, when we live for Him alone, we will feel the pinch. It is the willingness to take up our Cross daily and follow after Jesus.

Our Cross? Each of us bear the burden in different ways. For some, it is waking each morning and picking up the cross of depression and choosing life when it is all too easy to desire to ‘end it all’. Perhaps it is the cross of watching a family member self-destruct because of addiction, and loving that person is a daily sacrifice united with Jesus on the Altar at Mass. Is the cross unemployment? Chronic illness? Wayward children? Or, as for one young woman I know, who courageously fights for the unborn and has her heart broken by the coldness of the legislature to not even acknowledge the need for children born alive from failed abortions, left without care to die of cold and starvation.

We must pick up our Cross and carry it daily, uniting it with our Lord, because of love, which “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7).

May God Bless you.

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