Monday, May 07, 2007

Monday in the 5th Week of Easter
What It Looks Like

Readings: Acts 14:5-18; Psalm 115:1-2, 3-4, 15-16; John 14:21-26

If anyone loves me he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make our home with him…

What does it look like when people heed Jesus’ words and actually begin to love God and allow God to dwell in their hearts? The answer to this question is made manifest in the experiences of the early Church in the Acts of the Apostles. In particular, we see this in the experiences of Paul and Barnabas today. As we may remember, prompted by the Holy Spirit, the church had commissioned them to preach to the gentiles. And they have been faithfully carrying out their mission in the power of the same Spirit. Motivated by love for God and for humanity, they reproduce in their own lives the mission of Christ the crucified and risen Lord. God has indeed made a home in them such that, as Jesus did before them, they speak movingly and act powerfully to bring others into the knowledge and love of God.

And, also like Jesus, they persevere in their ministry even when faced with two formidable obstacles. The first is stubborn opposition even to the point where their lives are endangered and they have to flee for safety to Lycaonia. Here, they meet a second obstacle which, though far more subtle, is no less dangerous. Fleeing from opposition they find themselves face to face with seduction. They are tempted to accept the accolades of the Lycaonians who look upon them as gods. Yet they are wise enough to discern where this temptation will lead. Not only will it do spiritual harm to the people to whom they are ministering, but it will also lead Paul and Barnabas away from their original motivation. To accept the people’s sacrifice is also to allow themselves to be led away from their home in God and God’s home in them. The response to the psalm expresses the firm response of Paul and Barnabas: not to us, Lord, but to your name give the glory…

This, of course, is just one picture of what it looks like when people allow themselves to enter into a relationship of love with God. Today we in our turn are asked to imagine what it looks like in our own lives. What does the mission look like, where do we find the twin obstacles of opposition and seduction, in our workplaces, in our homes, in our church, in our world...? It is important that we consider these questions, for to imagine is often a necessary first step to making real.

How are we being invited to allow God to make a real home with us today?

1 comment:

  1. Picture this: you walk along the road with the swankiest residences in Singapore (no prizes guessing where) and you see breath-taking edifices of marble and glass making a statement about the people who live inside. Next, you walk around middle class Singaporean homes and you see the typical Singaporean family living a typical (some say boring) Singaporean lifestyle. The difference is more subtle than what meets the eye.

    A home in which dwells the Trinity exudes a distinctiveness that is both refreshing and alluring. Have you had the privilege of sensing it? I have - and I thank God for it.

    Where God has yet to find a home in, it becomes our unspoken ministry. The good thing about ministry is that we don't have to prepare hard for it or go out of our way: we just have to be our natural selves, and let the in-dwelling Trinity do the rest. In the course of our ministry, we will face opposition and seduction as Fr Chris explained. To which, I'd like to add, intransigence / indifference. Unlike opposition and seduction, intransigence / indifference blows neither hot nor cold - and that can be quite frustrating.

    May the Spirit continue to empower our ministry.