THE WISDOM OF GAMALIEL Acts 5:34-42

I find it difficult to know if Gamaliel was a sympathizer with the Christians or not. I wonder whether he eventually became a Christian. Whatever the answer to these questions may be, it is certain that he had a level of wisdom that was used by God to clear the way for the proclamation of the Christian message. The logic Gamaliel uses is faultless and it would seem to me that if he lived to see the success of the Gospel he, himself, would be forced to follow his own logic and surrender to the Christian Gospel. However, we do not know if this happened or not!

What is critical for the spread of the Gospel is that his argument gave rise to a relative peace and acceptance of the fact that here was a new message that might be worth listening to and considering. The proof of its veracity or truthfulness would be seen whether it was long-lasting or just another fad that is here today and gone tomorrow. If there is substance and truth to the message then it will endure and therefore we have no right to obstruct its advance.

One of the great dangers facing Christianity today is […]

By |April 28th, 2017|Daily Scripture|0 Comments

OBEDIENCE TO THE AUTHORITY OF MEN OR GOD? Acts 5:27-33

Down through history this experience of the apostles will be repeated over and over again as men and women seek to proclaim the Gospel truths whether they are welcomed or not. Many men and women were martyred for their faith as they proclaimed the Gospel in lands and among people who were hostile to the message. Even today there are many places in the world supposedly ‘off limits’ to the proclamation of the Gospel. The biggest problem with this is that in a certain sense, if we are Christian and living our faith, we are proclaiming the Gospel precisely through the way we live without having to say anything. St Francis of Assisi is reported to have once said to his brothers as he sent them out to preach, “Go and proclaim the Gospel; use words if you have to!”

One of the primary means of proclaiming the Gospel is through the witness of our lives. In fact, if the lived witness of the Gospel is not present then any words that are spoken, no matter how eloquent they may be, leave us open to the accusation of hypocrisy! The most powerful witness to the Gospel is always the life each […]

By |April 27th, 2017|Daily Scripture|0 Comments

JEALOUSY AND ENVY ARE DESTROYERS Acts 5:17-26

Jealousy and envy are quite different as far as sins go but their effects are the same – destruction of relationships. The high priest and the Sadducees are conspiring under the motivation of jealousy to arrest the apostles because of the success the apostles are having of winning converts to their way of understanding the life and ministry of Jesus. There are few motivators that are worse than jealousy and envy and the destruction of relationships that these two initiate is often very difficult, almost impossible to repair.

Think back in your life to an experience of jealousy where you were either the victim or the perpetrator. I am sure you will agree that no good came out of the actions prompted thus wise. What we need to be aware of at all times in our relationships with others is that fallen aspect of our humanity that leads to the rise of jealousy and envy. It is essential that we ‘nip such feelings in the bud’ or else they will gather momentum of their own and be extremely destructive.

St Francis of Assisi writes that such feelings are sins against the Holy Spirit as they are an outright refusal to rejoice in […]

By |April 26th, 2017|Daily Scripture|0 Comments

THE SON OF MAN WILL BE LIFTED UP Jn 3:7-13

We read in the Gospel today something of the foresight Jesus has into His mission. He likens what will happen to Him to the situation in the desert where Moses lifted up before the people a staff with a serpent on top. All who had been bitten by serpents and then looked upon this raised staff were healed. In retrospect we can see how this image fits in with the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus, who was lifted up for us on the cross becomes the source of our healing, the forgiveness of our sins. As we gaze upon Him lifted up and surrender our lives to His love we will be saved.

The way the biblical authors use Old Testament images and figures is instructive as to how they are interpreting the life of Jesus, particularly in relation to His Jewish roots. We may not be Jews, but the whole of Jewish history up to the time of Jesus is now our history and we should not only be willing to learn from it as such but it is necessary for us to do so. Without situating Jesus’ life, death and resurrection in its proper context we will […]

By |April 25th, 2017|Daily Scripture|0 Comments

BEING BORN FROM ABOVE AND THE SPIRIT Jn 3:1-8

The language of Jesus is somewhat confusing to Nicodemus and I can hardly blame him for being confused. It is not immediately apparent from the context of the situation exactly what Jesus means. We readers have the advantage of hindsight and 2000 years of analysis in order to understand what Jesus means, but spare a thought for Nicodemus who has none of this.

Jesus tells Nicodemus that He must be born of the Spirit and from of above if he truly wants to follow Jesus and understand His teaching. The same is true for us today! We will not understand the message of the Gospel unless we approach it with faith and seek to understand it with the help of the Holy Spirit. What Jesus is telling Nicodemus is that a whole process of conversion has to go on in his life before he will fully understand what He, Jesus, is preaching. This conversion only takes place under the grace of the Holy Spirit.

The Jewish faith had become very dependent upon very human interpretations and applications of the Law of Moses to the lives of the people. Jesus is signaling that this must come to an end a new era of […]

By |April 24th, 2017|Daily Scripture|0 Comments

DO YOU BELIEVE? Jn 20:19-31.

The apostles present Thomas with a challenge. They have seen the Lord! Will Thomas believe them? As we are well aware, Thomas’ initial response is in the negative. However, after he too encounters Jesus, he is ready to believe. I do not think that Thomas’ response is all that far from that which we could normally expect from a person being confronted with such a challenge as he was! I like to think that I would have believed without seeing, but I somehow think I would have given pretty much the same answer as Thomas did. What about you?

 

Herein lies an awesome responsibility. Yes, it is possible for Jesus to appear to people today but it does not seem to be His preferred way of acting! He has given each one of us, His disciples, the responsibility to make Him manifest to the world in the way that we live our lives. “Oh, no!” I can virtually hear you cry. “Oh, yes! What a joy this will be for us all if we can learn to trust that it is the work of the Holy Spirit and not dependent solely upon us!” is the reply that I make to you! […]

By |April 23rd, 2017|Daily Scripture|0 Comments

DO YOU BELIEVE? Jn 20:19-31.

The apostles present Thomas with a challenge. They have seen the Lord! Will Thomas believe them? As we are well aware, Thomas’ initial response is in the negative. However, after he too encounters Jesus, he is ready to believe. I do not think that Thomas’ response is all that far from that which we could normally expect from a person being confronted with such a challenge as he was! I like to think that I would have believed without seeing, but I somehow think I would have given pretty much the same answer as Thomas did. What about you?

Herein lies an awesome responsibility. Yes, it is possible for Jesus to appear to people today but it does not seem to be His preferred way of acting! He has given each one of us, His disciples, the responsibility to make Him manifest to the world in the way that we live our lives. “Oh, no!” I can virtually here you cry. “Oh, yes! What a joy this task will be for us all if we can learn to trust that it is the work of the Holy Spirit and not dependent solely upon us!” is the reply that I make to […]

By |April 23rd, 2017|Daily Scripture|0 Comments

FREEDOM OF RELIGION Acts 4:13-21

The Second Vatican Council affirmed that each person ought to be given the freedom to choose whatever religion they desire to follow, provided of course that it does not infringe the rights of others. Peter and John insist upon this right before the Sanhedrin and tell the leaders of the Jews that they will not, even cannot, keep silent about the Gospel. Freedom of conscience is a very powerful concept and its expression is often controversial.

The Church teaches that there is a fundamental dignity that must be given to a conscience judgment that has been made in good faith. Insofar as it has been made in good faith and there is a certain level of certainty achieved, then we are bound to follow it even if it may be wrong! There are many controversial aspects to this teaching that generally focus upon the nature of an ‘in good faith conscience’ and its relation to authoritative Church teaching. It becomes very difficult to set precise criteria as to what constitutes a conscience judgment made in good faith in relation to authoritative Church teaching as many people are still progressing on a journey of understanding in this regard. One way I like […]

By |April 22nd, 2017|Daily Scripture|0 Comments

A REPEAT PERFORMANCE Jn 21:1-14

This event by the side of the lake reflects a similar story told at the beginning of Luke’s Gospel (I think). The disciples have spent the night fishing and have failed to catch anything. At a word form Jesus they throw out their nets one last time and the nets are filled to breaking point. It is quite clear to me that here we are being invited to reflect upon the consequences of obedience to the Word of God. If we follow His will then our lives will be fruitful to an extent we can hardly imagine; if we are just acting upon our own wisdom, we may or may not bear fruit in our lives. We should never forget the power of the Word of God and, at the same time, always seek to put it into practice in our lives.

John recognizes the person on the shore as Jesus when he sees the extent of the catch. Perhaps he is remembering back to that earlier event three years before? Whatever is the case, it is a reminder to us to keep an open mind at all times as Jesus may appear to us in as simple an act as […]

By |April 21st, 2017|Daily Scripture|0 Comments

HEIRS OF THE COVENANT Acts 3:11-26

In a very real sense the Jewish people are still heirs to the covenant; it is just that they have not yet realized that the covenant has taken on a slightly different form to what they first expected. Unfortunately they did not recognize the Messiah in the form that he came. However, this will not be the case when he comes again in all his glory; when this happens everyone will see, believe and know that He is the Son of God.

The past 40 years following on from Vatican II there has been a lot of dialogue between the Vatican and various leading Jewish figures. This new depth of relationship has given rise to such descriptions of the Jewish people as our older brothers and so on. As Christians we have much to be thankful for to the Jews in that they were the ones who for two thousand years developed the understanding of God and His dealings with humanity that we assumed with our faith in Christ. If it were not for them we would not have the rich heritage of revelation present to us in the Old Testament! It is important that we do not divorce our understanding […]

By |April 20th, 2017|Daily Scripture|0 Comments