Today’s readings are full of hope, love, and inspiration – appropriate for this wonderful time of year when we bask in the light of Easter and celebration spring! It also encourages, perhaps more accurately, compels us to be inclusive in our consideration of who is worthy to be saved. “The chosen ones” are no longer limited to a single group of people rather there is an outreach to all who would believe. This is a great lesson for today’s world as we sometimes see more of the differences between groups of people rather than the similarities that we share.
The first reading has Peter talking with a “tough audience” – it is clear that much debate has already taken place. One can imagine that it was, indeed, heated. The self-righteous proclaiming their exclusive right to salvation. Peter, the one who we know was hard pressed to not deny Jesus in the most crucial times, emphasizes the role of the Holy Spirit who strengthened not only him but all whose hearts have been purified. This passage is so hopeful, so basic in the belief that we have a chance for this wonderful gift. It reinforces that we all can receive the Holy Spirit if we open our hearts. Our differences fade in the light of God’s love. We are bound together in this saving grace. When I was very young I had an interesting view of how Heaven would look. In my view, we were all alike – we had shed our earthly bodies and therefore outward differences, we were, instead, all lights of energy that moved effortlessly through this heavenly kingdom. Perhaps that view is not so far-fetched at least symbolically.
Our responsorial psalm is a joyous one with acclamations of the wonders of God and also a directive to proclaim these “marvelous deeds.” I wonder how many of us take the time to proclaim our miracles – those daily events that are clearly the hand of God in our lives. I know that they are there in my life regularly and I try to recognize them and be thankful. For me, as I so often mention, the presence of God is seen/heard in song. I turn on the radio or insert a CD and just the right song plays at that moment that fills my soul.
I was recently at a retreat with homeless women who are in recovery. So many moments of that weekend were clearly the hand of God and the presence of the Holy Spirit. We were blessed to have prayer shawls donated by women at a local parish. As I was reading the explanation about the shawls, mine was placed on my shoulders. My eyes fill with tears even as I write this. It was so powerful, the tingling on my arms and throughout my body left no doubt that the arms of Christ were enfolding me and the Holy Spirit filling my very being. My voice shook as I completed reading the following:
This shawl was prayerfully handmade by a member of the St. Margaret Mary Prayer Shawl Ministry. It was blessed by a priest at a parish Sunday mass.We prayed for you before you received this shawl and before we knew who you were. We pray for you now by name.
May God Bless you.
The idea of miracles leads beautifully into the gospel. While the reading is short , it conveys the message perfectly. The bottom line is LOVE – God loves us all and we can choose to remain in that love by the actions we choose and the way we live our lives. We can have complete joy! It is our choice . . . .