Reflections for Sunday, May 14, 2017: Fifth Sunday of Easter

Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
Mass Readings:
1st Reading: Acts 6:1-7
2nd Reading: 1 Peter 2:4-9
Responsorial: Psalm 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19
Gospel: John 14:1-12

Trusting in the Lord’s Great Love during Difficult Times

Do not let your hearts be troubled. (John 14:1)

There is no way anyone in the upper room was more troubled than Jesus. In just a few hours, he was going to be beaten, crowned with thorns, and crucified—and he knew it was going to happen. Still, he took the time to encourage his apostles. I may be leaving, he told them, but don’t lose your faith or your peace over it. Trust me instead.

As the night went on, the apostles grew increasingly anxious and fearful—so much so that they ended up running away from Jesus. Their faith wasn’t strong enough to sustain them when they faced a life-or-death situation.

But that’s not how their story ends. Their faith returned when Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to them. They were so excited that they went out and set the world on fire for Jesus.

Were their hearts troubled after Jesus ascended into heaven? Yes, often. Did they lose their peace? Yes, often. Didn’t they have the Holy Spirit in them? Yes. So why couldn’t they hold firm? Because even the great apostles Peter, James, and John were still only human. Sometimes it takes time, even years, to develop that level of faith and trust.

So how do we regroup when our faith is tested? The best thing you can do is go easy on yourself. Remember how Peter lost his trust and denied even knowing the Lord. He wept bitterly when he realized what he had done, but he didn’t remain trapped in that bitterness and guilt. When he saw Jesus on the Sea of Galilee, he jumped into the water and ran to him. He let Jesus reassure him, and he resolved to keep moving forward in faith.

So whenever your faith is tested, or whatever you are struggling with right now, remember that Jesus knows you. He knows your worries. He is with you, surrounding you with his love. Try your best to rest in him.

“Lord, help me to keep moving forward, to hold my peace, and to trust in you.”

Questions for Reflection and Discussion:

1. In the first reading, we see that the Holy Spirit provided the Apostles with a creative solution to their time management problems, especially how to provide a time for their spiritual life in the midst of their busyness: “Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task, whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” This approach bore much fruit: “The word of God continued to spread, and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly.”
• What do you think was the relationship between the decision to free up the Apostles’ time so they could devote themselves to “prayer and to the ministry of the word” and the amount of fruit their ministry bore?
• Do you believe there is a relationship between the fruit you bear in your life and the amount of time you spend in a daily prayer time and Scripture reading? Why or why not?
• In order to get in a fruitful daily prayer time and Scripture reading, in the midst of your own busyness, what creative solutions can you and the Holy Spirit come up with so that you not neglect your spiritual life and the Word of God?

2. The responsorial psalm begins with these words: “Exult, you just, in the LORD; praise from the upright is fitting. Give thanks to the LORD on the harp; with the ten-stringed lyre chant his praises.”
• The psalmist says that our praise and worship of God are “fitting.” What are some of the reasons the he gives for this praise and worship?
• To what extent are your times of prayer devoted to “exult,” “praise,” and “give thanks” to the Lord versus just addressing your needs? How can you change this?

3. The second reading opens with these words: “Beloved: Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
• What do you think it means that we are to let ourselves to “be built into a spiritual house” for God?
• What part do you think God wants you to be in his house?

4. The second reading ends with these words: “You are ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises’ of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
• What do you think St. Peter meant when he said: “you are to “announce the praises” of God who “called you out of darkness into his wonderful light”?
• How have you experienced this in your life? In what ways are you still holding onto parts in darkness?

5. The Gospel reading begins with these words of Jesus to his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not,
would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.”
• What is your reaction to these words?
• Do these words build your “faith in God” and in Jesus’ desire that “where I am you also may be”? How?

6. Jesus also speaks these words: “If you know me then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him” “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father”; “I am in the Father and the Father is in me”.
• In what ways do you have problems believing that God the Father has the same loving, kind, gentle and merciful attributes as Jesus? Why do you think this is so?

7. The meditation ends with these words “So whenever your faith is tested, or whatever you are struggling with right now, remember that Jesus knows you. He knows your worries. He is with you, surrounding you with his love. Try your best to rest in him.”
• What do you think it means to “rest” in Jesus when “your faith is tested” or “you are struggling”?
• What practical steps can you take to make resting in Jesus a greater part of your life?

8. Take some time now to pray and ask the Lord for the grace to continue to grow in faith and trust and reliance on him. Use the prayer below from the end of the meditation as the starting point.

“Lord, help me to keep moving forward, to hold my peace, and to trust in you.

Maurice Blumberg is the Director of Partner Relations for The Word Among Us Partners, (http://www.waupartners.org/), a ministry of The Word Among Us (http://www.wau.org) to the Military, Prisoners, and women with crisis pregnancies or who have had abortions. Maurice was also the founding Executive Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (http://www.nfcmusa.org/), for which he is currently a Trustee. He can be contacted at  mblumberg@wau.org or mblumberg@aol.com.