Jesus tells his disciples that soon God will give them whatever they ask. Often, however, we receive without asking. Apollos receives much needed instruction about the Christian faith. The Christian community then receives in Apollos a well-formed and compelling preacher. Surprise someone by doing something helpful but unexpected for them today. Today’s Readings: Acts 18:23–28; Psalm 47:2–3, 8–9, 10; John 16:23b–28.
The Ascension of the Lord
A pair of ducks found their way to the same little corner of the property year after year. Sheltered by a little grove of trees, they quickly made their preparations to build a nest, lay eggs, and welcome in a new family. Then one year, only one of the ducks came to that little corner. She went about the business of building a nest, but this time, she was clearly unsettled. She would wander around, sometimes seemingly without purpose, almost hoping perhaps that her mate might come along. But, she remained alone. There were many times when we could hear her “crying”, mourning her loneliness and lack of purpose, sitting on a batch of eggs that would never hatch. One day, she quietly left that little corner never to return again.
Many human beings approach life this way. We silently grieve our loneliness, lack of direction, and sense of purpose. Maybe life once had meaning for us, but nothing seems to claim us and settle our restlessness any longer. We wander around looking and hoping for someone or something to come our way. We may even sob at times, wailing as we sit with the misery of our pain. Will happiness ever come our way again? Or will we simply leave where we are never to return again? Many are lost, wandering souls who are not quite sure where to settle or where to make a home.
We are meant to be in Christ. This glorious feast of the Ascension shows us, with clear vision, who Jesus really is! Understanding ourselves in Christ really changes things up and reorients us to our greater purpose, mission, and meaning. We are part of the cosmic wonder of creation and part of a bigger plan and mystery, destined to be much more than what we now know ourselves to be. Could Jesus’ friends know who he would become? If we can find the Christ present within and see the Christ bursting forth in all creation and beyond, then we can come to know our truth and understand where our home and life is meant to be.
Although Jesus’ disciples think they understand him, Jesus insists that their understanding is incomplete: during his passion, they will abandon him. Only with the gift of the Holy Spirit will they find the courage to stay faithful. By contrast, Paul encounters men who have not heard of the Holy Spirit but who are well prepared to receive this gift. We need both the Spirit and the formation of our faith community to guide us forward. Pray for the Spirit to fill you and your faith community. Today’s Readings: Acts 19:1–8; Psalm 68:2–3ab, 4–5acd, 6–7ab; John 16:29–33.
Tuesday, May 26—Imitators
There are similarities between Paul’s journey to Jerusalem and Jesus’ preparations for his passion. In John’s account of the Gospel, Jesus gives a long farewell discourse in which he talks with his disciples about all that is going to happen. Paul also makes a formal farewell before facing the hardships that await him. As he says goodbye, Paul urges his listeners to imitate Jesus just as he has. Hear more of Paul’s heartfelt words by reading all or part of his letter to the Philippians. Today’s Readings: Acts 20:17–27; Psalm 68:10–11, 20–21; John 17:1–11a.
Wednesday, May 27—Set Apart
In the Gospel passage, the word world refers to all that opposes God. As Jesus continues his prayer to the Father, he speaks about how his followers are set apart from the world. He prays that God will further consecrate or sanctify them to continue his work of sharing the truth of God’s love. Paul also was set apart for God’s work, and he reminded others to remain steadfast in holiness. In what concrete ways can you set yourself apart from the world? Today’s Readings: Acts 20:28–38; Psalm 68:29–30, 33–35a, 35bc–36ab; John 17:11b–19.
Thursday, May 28—That All May Be One
Religion, sadly, often divides people instead of uniting them. The Pharisees and Sadducees disagreed on whether there was any kind of afterlife. Disagreements about beliefs and practices persist among Christians today. Such division compels us to bow our heads and echo Jesus’ prayer for unity. Today’s Readings: Acts 22:30; 23:6–11; Psalm 16:1–2a and 5, 7–8, 9–10, 11; John 17:20–26.
Friday, May 29—In the Hands of Others
In Luke’s Gospel account, Jesus tells his disciples that they will be handed over to kings and governors (21:12–13). In the passage from Acts, Paul is in the hands of the local governor who consults on his case with the king. In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus tells Peter that one day Peter will be arrested and crucified. Centuries later, Christians still come into conflict with those in authority. Pray for those who are attacked or imprisoned because of their faith. Today’s Readings: Acts 25:13b–21; Psalm 103:1–2, 11–12, 19–20ab; John 21:15–19.
Saturday, May 30—The Work Continues
As we near the end of our Easter season, we hear the conclusions to the Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel according to John. Paul has arrived at Rome, in fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy that his followers would be his witnesses throughout the world. Today Christian missionaries have crossed oceans to enter new regions and share the story of salvation. John’s Gospel notes that Jesus said and did far more than any book could contain. The Jesus who has risen, ascended to his Father, and filled us with his Spirit continues his mission through us. May the good work we do in Jesus’ name fill more volumes than could ever be written. Today’s Readings: Acts 28:16–20, 30–31; Psalm 11:4, 5 and 7; John 21:20–25.