Prayer and Meditation for Tuesday, May 16, 2017 — Stoning of Paul — “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.”

Tuesday of Fifth Week of Easter
Lectionary: 286

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and outdoor

Stoning of Paul

Reading 1 ACTS 14:19-28

In those days, some Jews from Antioch and Iconium
arrived and won over the crowds.
They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city,
supposing that he was dead.
But when the disciples gathered around him,
he got up and entered the city.
On the following day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.

After they had proclaimed the good news to that city
and made a considerable number of disciples,
they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch.
They strengthened the spirits of the disciples
and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying,
“It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships
to enter the Kingdom of God.”
They appointed presbyters for them in each Church and,
with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord
in whom they had put their faith.
Then they traveled through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia.
After proclaiming the word at Perga they went down to Attalia.
From there they sailed to Antioch,
where they had been commended to the grace of God
for the work they had now accomplished.
And when they arrived, they called the Church together
and reported what God had done with them
and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.
Then they spent no little time with the disciples.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 145:10-11, 12-13AB, 21

R. (see 12) Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
R. Alleluia.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your might.
R. Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
R. Alleluia.
Making known to men your might
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is a kingdom for all ages,
and your dominion endures through all generations.
R. Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
R. Alleluia.
May my mouth speak the praise of the LORD,
and may all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.
R. Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia SEE LK 24:46, 26

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Christ had to suffer and to rise from the dead,
and so enter into his glory.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel JN 14:27-31A

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give it to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.
You heard me tell you,
‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’
If you loved me,
you would rejoice that I am going to the Father;
for the Father is greater than I.
And now I have told you this before it happens,
so that when it happens you may believe.
I will no longer speak much with you,
for the ruler of the world is coming.
He has no power over me,
but the world must know that I love the Father
and that I do just as the Father has commanded me.”


First Thoughts From Peace and Freedom

There is nothing new in the themes presented in today’s readings.

It may come as some surprise to our society that wants nothing to do with pain and suffering that pain and suffering can have meaning in our lives. In fact, not to many human being escape pain and suffering.

Jusus tell us, “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” This may be one of the most frequent teachings in the Gospels.

Related: (Pain and Suffering)

Do not be afraid:

Over and over again in the scripture we see the words “do not be afraid.” God expects us to know and believe that he has our back!
This little “anti-anxiety” prayer was a part of every Catholic Mass for centuries:
Deliver us, Lord, from every evil,
and grant us peace in our day.
In your mercy keep us free from sin
and protect us from all anxiety
as we wait in joyful hope
for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Another anti-anxiety prayer is this one:
God, I offer myself to Thee-
To build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self,
that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties,
that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help
of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.
May I do Thy will always!
Thank you, God, Amen!
Praise Jesus for St. Teresa of Ávila who gave us one of the simplest and finest prayers, “Let Nothing Disturb You” –
Let nothing trouble you,
let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing;
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who possesses God lacks nothing:
God alone suffices.
Nada te turbe;
nada te espante;
todo se pasa;
Dios no se muda,
la paciencia todo lo alcanza.
Quien a Dios tiene, nada le falta.
Solo Dios basta.
 Image may contain: 1 person, indoor
St Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) as a Young Woman (detail) by François Gerard (1827)

Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore 
16 MAY, 2017, Tuesday, 5th Week of Easter

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ ACTS 14:19-28; PS 144:10-13,21; JOHN 14:27-31 ]

Jesus said to His disciples, “Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you.”  We all look for peace.  We are tired because every day, we have to fight so many battles.  There is conflict and tension at home, at work and in church.  People are not talking or they are gossiping and there is much bitterness.  Trying to reconcile and deal with misunderstandings, accusations and mediating the different parties is exhausting.  Sometimes, we look for peace in terms of finding rest from our work and our business.  We are drained out by responsibilities and by our commitments.  So the world’s notion of peace is freedom from stress and from human conflicts.

But this is not the kind of peace that Jesus has come to offer us.  The peace we just mentioned is the peace of the world.  The peace of Christ is very different.  It does not mean that we will be free of troubles, problems, challenges and difficulties.  It does not mean that we can rest, do nothing and be free from all responsibilities of life.  Peace is not retirement from work and from life.  Peace is not escapism from the world of real life.

On the contrary, peace comes from a greater commitment to our work and responsibilities.   Peace comes from continuing the mission of Christ to proclaim the Good News to all, like St Paul and Barnabas.  Peace comes from saying ‘Yes’ to Jesus.  Indeed, this was the peace of Paul.  His conscience was clear.  His life was so full of hazardous events.  But he never stopped fulfilling the mission entrusted to him.   Even when he faced so many enemies wherever he went, he did not give up his responsibility of proclaiming Christ to the people.  He was totally focused.  It is hard to believe that he was stoned almost to death and yet “he stood up and went back to the town.”  St Paul was not afraid of death or of his enemies.  He was willing to face death and suffering.  By overcoming the fear of death and suffering, he was fearless in proclaiming the Good News, for nothing could hinder him.   Without wasting any time, the next day, he continued his journey to preach the Good News elsewhere.  There was no time to lament, to moan or to complain.  Such was the peace that St Paul experienced.  A peace that came from doing God’s will in proclaiming the Good News to all.

Peace comes from surrendering our work and mission to the Lord.  We read that “In each of these churches they appointed elders, and with prayer and fasting they commended them to the Lord in whom they had come to believe.”  Wherever they went, they would commend what they intended to accomplish to the grace of God.  We should not be too concerned whether our ministry is successful or not, whether it bears fruit or otherwise.  Success is the work of God and His grace.  Our task is to do our best in the ministry and be faithful to our vocation.  So long as we seek to do our best, we should be contented to entrust the work we do to God.  If He wants to bless our work and ministry, we are grateful.  But even if He does not, we trust in His divine wisdom and plan for us.  Paul never thought that any accomplishment was due to their hard work alone but he knew that he was just a servant of God.  It is the Lord who accomplishes His plan in and through us.

Peace comes from knowing that the Lord is helping us to fulfill His mission well.  “On their arrival they assembled the church and gave an account of all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith to the pagans. They stayed there with the disciples for some time.”  The great joy of a priest and for anyone of us is to feel that we have made a difference in the lives of others.  This peace of knowing that we have done our part and fulfilled our duty and responsibility to our loved ones and those entrusted to us should bring us great satisfaction.  This is a peace that is the consequence of overcoming all the trials of life.  It is a peace that comes from the conquest of evil and falsehood.

Peace comes from loving the Father unto death.  This was the peace of Jesus.  Jesus told the disciples, “I have told you this now before it happens, so that when it does happen you may believe. I shall not talk with you any longer, because the prince of this world is on his way. He has no power over me, but the world must be brought to know that I love the Father and that I am doing exactly what the Father told me.”  Jesus at the last supper was prophesying about His imminent death.  He knew that the power of evil would manifest itself and apparently win the victory over Him. But Jesus was very confident that His Father would vindicate Him.  Jesus refused to submit to the power of evil and the temptations of the Evil One.  He withstood the temptations of the Devil and overcame sin by dying on the cross.  By so doing, He revealed His utter love for the Father by His total obedience to His will.

Peace comes from the assurance of the future.  “They put fresh heart into the disciples, encouraging them to persevere in the faith. ‘We all have to experience many hardships’ they said ‘before we enter the kingdom of God.’”   St Paul never gave false hope when inviting them to become Christians.  There are some Catholics who invite others to become Christians or to join some church organization or ministry, but fail to forewarn them of the challenges and trials ahead of them.  So like Jesus, St Paul was outrightly honest about the trials of the Christians.  But in the same breath, he offered hope.  He did not talk about the sufferings but he focused on the future of what was to come.  If we suffer only for the present, we feel discouraged.  But the sufferings we are going through is to prepare us for the future.  For the sake of the future, we can tolerate the sufferings of the present.  We follow “Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”  (Heb 12:2)

So the peace that comes is for the greater good of the certain future that is promised to us.  This was what St Peter wrote to the Christians as well. “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  Without having seen him you love him; though you do not now see him you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy. As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls.”  (1 Pt 1:6-9) That is why we should be happy when our loved ones, like Jesus, have to return to the Father.  Jesus said, “If you loved me you would have been glad to know that I am going to the Father.”   So too if we love our loved ones, when the time comes for them to return Home, we should not prevent them from doing so simply because we want them for ourselves.  We should not prevent them from entering into the fullness of their rest and reward.  We will miss them, just like the apostles.  But it is important that they find their ultimate rest in the bosom of the Lord.

Most of all, peace comes from the assurance of His presence in our midst.  Jesus told the disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me say: I am going away, and shall return. If you loved me you would have been glad to know that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.”  We never suffer alone.  A Christian does not need to suffer alone because the Father is with him in His Son and the Holy Spirit.  Jesus is giving us the Holy Spirit to be with us so that He can lead us to the fullness of truth and life.  To know that the Lord is with us, we can overcome all trials and all difficulties.  “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Rom 8:37-39)  Let us therefore find our peace in Christ’s love and His presence in us in the Holy Spirit.

Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

One Response to “Prayer and Meditation for Tuesday, May 16, 2017 — Stoning of Paul — “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.””

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: