Saint Paul is the victim of injustice. Held by the Romans, for charges brought by the Jewish leadership. Charges brought about because of fear and jealousy. Even the miraculous deeds performed in their sight does not counter the worst of human emotions.
Peter and Judas. It has been observed by many that both Peter and Judas sinned greatly against Jesus by betraying and abandoning him when Jesus needed them most. Yet Judas is remembered as a traitor, while Peter is remembered as the first pope. Why the difference?
It is no secret, especially to those who keep an eye open for studies on faith participation, that these days for the Christian faith present a challenge. It is simple. For more and more people, especially the young, Christian faith is simply not a factor in their lives.
It was once said to me that life is a series of beginnings and endings. We start something, but invariably it comes to an end. We finish something and can find ourselves sad until we begin something new.
I played a dangerous game in high school. I compared my individual talents to others, and I found myself lacking. That is because for each individual talent I had, there was always another person who was better. Rather than being able to see the many blessings God gave me, I focused on what I did not have. In today’s first reading, the apostle Paul shows how being baptized helps each of us to see the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
When I was in college, there was a program, popular in parishes and other settings, called “Life in the Spirit Seminars.” It was largely a program that encouraged people to participate in the charismatic renewal by highlighting the importance of a relationship with the Holy Spirit, and the reception of the gifts of the Holy Spirit mentioned in the New Testament by Saint Paul. The culmination of the program was to be “baptized in the spirit.”
One of the great images of the Second Vatican Council was viewing a family as a domestic Church. This is a natural outcome when the Church is seen as the Bride of Christ, for it is this relationship that marriage is called to emulate.
Jealousy and envy can be difficult things for us to admit to in our lives. We do not usually tell others we are jealous of them, or that we envy this or that thing. Someone else gets recognition for something, when I think it should be me, and I feel jealous. Someone has something I want, and I can envy them.
Just think of it. From all eternity, Jesus has a place in heaven prepared for us. He has shown us the way to this place, because he himself is the way. He has given us a preview of his relationship with him here on earth, as a foretaste of the eternal relationship he calls us to share with him in heaven for ever.
Often we fail to see the Lord working in our lives. We can believe that all our gifts, all our blessings and talents are of our own making. But the truth is, it is always God working in and through us. Fr. Simon-Felix Michalski, O.P., reminds us to look for the Lord working in our lives and to try and see everything in a new and different way. We have to recognize like Stephen did, that God is at work and our ministry only bears fruit when rooted in Christ.