Scripture Reflection . . .
From the Feast of the Ascension
First Reading: Acts 1:1-11
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 47 “God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.
Second Reading: Ephesians 1:17-23
Gospel: Matthew 28:16-20
Being the last one to leave the prayer room after evening prayer. I turned off the lights. It was only then that I realized the candle was still burning. What went unnoticed in the light suddenly became the center of my focus in the dark. Is this not like faith?
It can be somewhat easy to go along in life comfortable with being a follower of Jesus, life is good, we don’t have to give a lot of attention to the matter of faith. But when the “light goes out” and the life gets bumpy for any number of reasons: sickness, loss – of a person, plan, job, dream, youth, etc; change . . . suddenly everything that gave us the sense of security falls away; everything that seemed to be so important fades away and we are left with nothing. Nothing but that flickering light of faith – which we can quickly extinguish because of fear or we can stay with it and gradually let the tiny flame illuminate the space around as our eyes adjust to the dark.
This reflection is based on the Scriptures for the Feast of the Ascension, which the Archdiocese of Philadelphia commemorated this past Thursday but which most dioceses in celebrate today. In the Gospel we read that disciples, “When they saw [Jesus], they worshiped, but they doubted.” Surprisingly Jesus, undeterred by their lack of faith, says to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations . . .”! In the face of doubt, Jesus sends them forth – and you know what? They go!
The flicker of faith in their darkness of doubt became a flame which became a torch as the disciples stayed with the questions and fears long enough to be open to receive the Holy Spirit. We have been hearing since Easter in the Acts of the Apostles the passion and compassion with which the disciples went forth from the upper room, leaving behind fear and the illusion of security.
Perhaps faith is about openness, patience and the ability to keep going in the midst of our doubts, questions, and fears. Faith, rather than being something we can measure to determine how much we have, is perhaps more about the journey – we move forward, pausing from time to time as way opens here and there. Perhaps this was the purpose for the disciples retreat to the “upper room” – a quiet, dark space which enabled them to see and receive the steadily burning glow of the Holy Spirit. The First Reading actually records Jesus telling his disciples to “wait for ‘the promise of the Father about which you have heard me speak; for John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ ”
In Our Lives as Sisters of The Holy Redeemer . . .
On our journey of faith this past week we encountered . . .
a community of faith that sustains and nurtures as we gathered for our monthly evening Mass this past Monday;
individuals of incredible compassion who minister throughout our sponsored works of home care as we gathered with them for prayer services in which we paused along the journey to listen to the Spirit in one another’s stories. We prayed with the theme “Transformed people, transform people.” (inspired by a quote and reflection by Richard Rohr, OFM).
Sisters, Redeemer Associates, and Redeemer Ministry Corps volunteer going about their daily works of service through the lens of a camera as we participated in a photo shoot to update our website. It is a gift to see how the Holy Spirit works through technology! Think about it – taking a picture requires a pause in the activity – for just a moment – but enough time to focus attention and perhaps see something / someone more clearly than before. It allows us the possibility to see the presence of God in that moment.
the faith of all the Sisters of The Holy Redeemer who have gone before us. On this Memorial Day weekend, we celebrated Liturgy and a participated in a blessing of a new memorial garden in which our Sisters’ names are engraved on a stone wall. Their names evoked memories of simple faith-filled women who went about their daily work sustained by prayer and community often in the face of uncertainty, challenges, and fear.
In Your Life . . .
As the Church commemorates the Feast of the Ascension and draws near to the great Feast of Pentacost we invite you to pause on your journey of life; of faith, to go to your “upper room” to focus for a moment on the presence of faith; the presence of the Holy Spirit. You may wish to enter into this prayerful space by
Lighting a candle in a dimly lit or dark space. Allow your eyes to gradually adjust to the light of flame and notice how it illuminates the space around.
Taking a photo with a camera or smart phone – taking time to really look at the subject before tapping the button.
What does the Holy Spirit want to share with you at this point along your journey?
Blessings on your week!