Sent Forth

05-29-2022Weekly Reflection© J. S. Paluch Company

Today we celebrate Jesus’ return to heaven. If we struggle to know how to feel about this event, we take our cue from Jesus’ disciples. These disciples are first-hand witnesses to the Ascension, returning afterword to Jerusalem, where “they were continually in the temple praising God.” Long-time companions of the Lord, they surely feel the pain of physical separation from Jesus. Yet they praise God continually. They accept God’s plan, looking forward to the day when Christ will come again. As our reading from Hebrews affirms, Christ will return to “bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.” This Good News is almost too much to take in; the Acts of the Apostles explains that an angel has to wake the disciples from their stupor, reminding them to start the Lord’s work. Today’s readings are our own angel, sending us forth in joyful hope.

Returning to Ordinary Life

05-22-2022Weekly Reflection© J. S. Paluch Company

Six weeks into our Easter rejoicing, the Church gives us readings today that start pre-paring us for a return to ordinary life. The Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel both dwell on proper daily behavior for followers of Jesus, while the reading from Revelation reminds us why we bother with laws at all. In Acts, leaders of the church meet to discuss which essential elements of the Mosaic Law converts must obey if they wish to be disciples of Jesus Christ. John’s Gospel reflects back to the Last Supper discourse when Jesus himself emphasizes the importance of obeying God’s commandments. Observing God’s law, says Jesus, shows a desire to be intimate with the Lord. We follow rules not for their own sake, but to love God and neighbor better. This more excellent love brings us closer to Revelation’s vision of paradise, gleaming with “the splendor of God.”

Making All Things New

05-15-2022Weekly Reflection© J. S. Paluch Company

Although we are five full weeks into the celebration of Easter, today’s readings focus on newness. Our Easter food leftovers may be long gone, but the readings insist on every moment’s freshness in the risen Jesus. The Acts of the Apostles depicts Paul and Barnabas reflecting on all the innovative work that God has done with them. They have traveled hundreds of miles, introducing faith in Jesus Christ to all who listen, even Gentiles. For the dutiful Jewish scholar Paul, preaching to Gentiles is a completely unique development. Jesus calls Paul, and us, not to be afraid of new challenges: as John the Evangelist reports in Revelation, Jesus promises to “make all things new.” In the Gospel reading, Jesus even gives us a new commandment. The He-brew Scriptures overflow with commandments, but Jesus knows we need one more, perfect mission: “love one another.”

A Foretaste of Paradise

05-08-2022Weekly Reflection© J. S. Paluch Company

Throughout Easter Time, the Church rejoices with Jesus, risen from the dead. Our readings on this Fourth Sunday of Easter celebrate our instinct to come together in joy, worshiping in church. While private prayer nourishes our individual relationship with the Lord, community prayer is a foretaste of paradise. The book of Revelation depicts a “great multitude” worshiping God “day and night in his temple.” Our churches on Easter Sunday often reflect this happy multitude, filling the pews to bursting. Four Sundays into the festive season, we are encouraged to keep praising God together. In the Acts of the Apostles, Paul and Barnabas demonstrate their instinct to worship with their faith community each Sabbath, dutifully taking their seats in the synagogue. In the Gospel, Jesus calls us his sheep and reminds us why coming together as a flock is so important: uniting in community, we imitate the unity of God.

God’s Overflowing Kindness

05-01-2022Weekly Reflection© J. S. Paluch Company

The superabundance of God’s kindness ties all of today’s readings together. Especial-ly when life overwhelms us, the Lord provides all we need, and then some. In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter takes the lead when facing the Sanhedrin. We might expect the man who denied Jesus to crumble under the imposing glare of the high priest. Instead, the Holy Spirit helps him testify to his faith in Jesus Christ. What Peter had lacked before, cour-age and conviction, God provides in abun-dance. Similarly, today’s Gospel shows Jesus providing a surplus of fish for the disciples. They have no luck fishing until the Lord inter-cedes. Jesus supplies an almost ridiculous number of fish, and he cooks it for them, too. As our reading from Revelation affirms, the overflowing riches of God require constant praise. Countless creatures—“everything in the universe”—cry out to honor the Lord, for-ever and ever.