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Knowing, Living and Sharing the Lord's Splendor
During the Responsorial Psalm at this morning's Daily Mass Celebration, those blessed with a little vocal ability who were so inclined to put it on display sang in part Psalm 145, which exclaims "Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom." As the lectern encouraged the faithful to engage in the discourse of the glory of God's kingdom and to speak of God's might and concluded by pointing out one of the fundamental bedrock beliefs of Christians the world over, that being the fact that God's kingdom is a "kingdom for all ages", one in which God's dominion endures throughout all generations, she in essence offered those in attendance a moment to reflect upon whether or not he or she truly is a friend of the Lord.
This will serve as our spiritual jumping off point as we reflect on today's readings.
In Acts (14:19-28) we look in on Paul, perhaps the greatest and certainly the most tireless of all the prophets, who was stoned and essentially left for dead in Antioch prior to his attempt to spread the word. We soon see however, that he arose from the canvas in a feat of holy-spirit infused fortitude and toughness that would've made Rocky Balboa proud, preaching the word and then moving on to Derbe. And then to Lystra. And then Iconium. And back to Antioch. The focal point of his message was perseverance, pointing our repeatedly "It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God".
.......on the heels of his stoning, he certainly knew of what he spoke.
From there we move on to John's Gospel (14:27-31a) where Jesus proclaims a message so paramount and eternal that we revisit it every single day at Mass when he says to his friends "Peace I leave you, my peace I give to you." Explaining that his love and peace is given not as the world gives, but as he gives, Jesus encourages and urges them one last time, "do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid". If only we had complete and undying faith in the uniqueness and superiority of Jesus' love over worldly love, our hearts would never be troubled or afraid.
Jesus proves to us time and time again that, to cop a popular internet meme, "fear is a liar."
Knowing what we know and bolstered by the daily and well-chosen scripture passages from Act of the Apostles and John as we approach the Feast of the Ascension, it's time for each of us to shift our focus and eagerly look for ways to make known the glorious splendor of God's Kingdom, for we are in fact dear friends of God and his begotten son Jesus and called to do so. Through our words and actions, our message must be based in the truth, for the truth is eternal and everlasting.
Yes, hardships must be endured and our fears checked at the door, especially those faith-abiding Catholics living in the year 2016. But examples of perseverance and courage through the works of Paul and of course Jesus serve to galvanize us every day. By emulating them and seeking guidance from the Holy Spirit, we can in fact make known this glorious splendor to our brothers and sister who are in dire need of the message.