The Persecutors – Good News for October 5

5 10 2010

St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians 1:13-24

Brothers and Sisters,

You heard of my former way of life in Judaism, how I persecuted the Church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it, and progressed in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my race, since I was even more a zealot for my ancestral traditions. But when he, who from my mother’s womb had set me apart and called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, so that I might proclaim him to the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were Apostles before me; rather, I went into Arabia and then returned to Damascus.

Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to confer with Cephas and remained with him for fifteen days. But I did not see any other of the Apostles, only James the brother of the Lord. (As to what I am writing to you, behold, before God, I am not lying.) Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. And I was unknown personally to the churches of Judea that are in Christ; they only kept hearing that “the one who once was persecuting us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” So they glorified God because of me.

The Daily Path: St. Paul’s letter is an incredible testimony to how the grace of God can work in anyone. One minute “Saul” is brutally persecuting Christians. The next he is miraculously transformed into Paul, preaching about the Christ, building believers across many lands. He even pleads to the truth of his witness!

There was a time when I, too, persecuted Our Lord’s followers. I didn’t attack them or cause bodily harm as “Saul” did before his conversion. But for many years I largely denied my faith and ignored the opportunity to live in Christ. I found it easier to mock my Catholic roots than choose the harder road of embracing God. I believe that God looks for the most difficult nuts to crack so that his power and complete love can be more evident for all to see.

Our Road to Damascus – Good News for April 23

23 04 2010

Acts of the Apostles 9:1-20

Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, that, if he should find any men or women who belonged to the Way, he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains. On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him.

He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” He said, “Who are you, sir?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.”

The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, for they heard the voice but could see no one. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him to Damascus. For three days he was unable to see, and he neither ate nor drank.

There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias, and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” He answered, “Here I am, Lord.” The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight and ask at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is there praying, and in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, that he may regain his sight.”

But Ananias replied, “Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man, what evil things he has done to your holy ones in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to imprison all who call upon your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and children of Israel, and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.”

So Ananias went and entered the house; laying his hands on him, he said, “Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me, Jesus who appeared to you on the way by which you came, that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately things like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. He got up and was baptized, and when he had eaten, he recovered his strength.

He stayed some days with the disciples in Damascus, and he began at once to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.

The Daily Path: Friends, I ask you to read this passage carefully and often. The story of Saul’s conversion is so important to each of us. Just allow it to sit with you. Look within your own life, as I have with mine, to see similarities between Saul’s road to Damascus and our own journey.

How do we persecute in our lives? How are we called to see? Will we say “yes” when asked? Will we get up off the ground and open our eyes?

Gordo’s Light – Good News for March 26

26 03 2010

John 10:31-42

The Jews picked up rocks to stone Jesus. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from my Father. For which of these are you trying to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “We are not stoning you for a good work but for blasphemy. You, a man, are making yourself God.”

Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods”‘? If it calls them gods to whom the word of God came, and Scripture cannot be set aside, can you say that the one whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world blasphemes because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me; but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may realize and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”

Then they tried again to arrest him; but he escaped from their power.

He went back across the Jordan to the place where John first baptized, and there he remained. Many came to him and said, “John performed no sign, but everything John said about this man was true.” And many there began to believe in him.

The Daily Path: Here is a wonderful story that a good friend shared with me yesterday…

It’s about a young man by the name of Gordon who a number of years ago was stricken with MS. For those of us who don’t know, MS – multiple sclerosis – affects the ability of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord to communicate with each other. Eventually all the motor functions shut down because the brain can no longer get messages out to the rest of the body. Sadly, there is no known cure for MS.

Gordon, is cared for in a Southern California assisted living facility. Each day members of his faith community come to spend time with him and to feed him his meals as he can no longer do this on his own. Often these are parishioners who have never met Gordon, yet wish to share some love. He struggles to communicate with family and friends as his speech has become slurred. However, “Gordo”, as he is known, has an amazing gift of communication. One that far exceeds what most humans are capable of.

Gordon an extraordinary gift of prayer. He prays in a powerful voice that enables miracles to occur in the hearts of men and woman. Gordo prays for the one thing that matters most… conversions. He asks God to open the minds and hearts of many who come into his life. And the Father is listening carefully because this young man has an amazing success rate. Over 100 people who’s names Gordon has lifted up have since embraced God into their lives!

To my mind, Gordo has been deeply blessed with the Spirit. Though his body withers, he knows God as few of us with healthy bodies will ever be able to in this life. Through physical challenges, God shined his light on Gordon. He in turn allows it to shine through him so that others will be touched by its glow.

John tells us of the signs that Jesus provided so that “many there began to believe in him.” His signs remain all around us, still at work each day. In this amazing young man named Gordo, we find yet another.

Room to Chat: Father, thank you for the sign you provide in Gordon. Help each of us to use the challenges we face on earth to draw closer to you and bask in your light. Hold Gordo tight this day so that he may continue to inspire all of us to continue on the journey home.

Church by Jonathan Burstein