The Difference Between Preaching with Weakness and Proclaiming with Power (Tues. June 22)

The word of the day is “ashamed.”  In this time of cynicism, we are tempted to stifle our witness to our faith because we fear it would not be understood or even ridiculed.  If we face such a temptation, we should pay attention to St. Paul’s words in our reading of Romans 1:1-7; 13-17.  Paul begins his epistle with the bold statement, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel” (OSB vs. 16).  Today, as we start reading Romans, we find that if the Gospel is proclaimed with boldness, it has power.  But if it is preached with conformity to the world, it is weak. Glorying in the Gospel St. Paul’s letter to the Romans is the nearest thing in…

Making Good Out of Evil Days (Mon. June 21)

The word of the day is “days.”   As our world staggers from one crisis to another, we are tempted to despair.  We might say to ourselves that there is nothing that we can do about the turmoil of our times.  Yet, our reading of Ephesians 5:9-19 encourages us that we can respond faithfully to the chaos surrounding us.  Thus, Paul exhorts us “to walk circumspectly… redeeming the time because the days are evil” (vs. 15).  Today we consider what it means to “redeem” what otherwise is an evil time. The Day is Not Evil by Nature Why does Paul call the day in which we live “evil”?  Are things that bad?  The Greek term evil refers to the effect or…

The Holy Spirit Is Given to All but Received by Each (Sun. June 20)

The word of the day is “each.”  As we celebrate the  Day of Pentecost, we might ask who received the gift of the  Holy Spirit at that festival?  Just the twelve disciples?  And we might ask who is given the Holy Spirit today?  Only those whom we call the saints?  Today in our reading of Acts 2:1-11,  Luke records that when a mighty wind blew, “there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them” (OSB vs. 3).  Today we emphasize that all who are baptized are given the gift of the Holy Spirit.  He does not belong to selected believers as their possession while the rest of us must do without the “power…

Understanding the Ending of Acts: The Gospel Unhindered (Sat. June 19)

The word of the day is “unhindered.”  In the Divine Liturgy, we pray for our civic leaders “that we in their tranquility may lead a calm and peaceful life in all godliness and sanctity” (St-Tikhon’s 1984, 71).  In other words, we are praying for an equilibrium in our lives, free of contention, strife and discord.  In such a balanced situation, we can grow in what is godly and holy.[i] Today, in our reading of Acts 28:1-31, Luke, the writer of Acts, closes his early church history with such a sense of stability.  He says that Paul lived in a rented house in Rome for two years, “preaching… and teaching…with all confidence, no one forbidding him” (OSB vs. 31). We might…

Times of Peril Demand Total Faith (Fri. June 18)

The word for today is “skiff,” a small boat.   When we encounter times of distress and desperation, do we trust God completely?  Or do we keep something in reserve to rely on, an insurance policy as a last resort?  We pray to God for help.  But just in case divine help is not enough, we have something else to turn to. Our reading of Acts 27:1-44 tells the exciting story of the shipwreck that St. Paul survived on his way to Rome.  In keeping a vision of God’s will,  he has given the witness of his faith in Jerusalem (Acts 23:11).  The apostle has appeared before the high priest and council in Jerusalem (Acts 22:1-20; 23:1-6). He has testified before…

Jesus Christ is Alive but What Does That Mean? (Thurs. June 17)

The word of the day is “alive.”  What does it mean to say that Jesus Christ is alive?  We take its meaning for granted.  But how would we explain it to someone who was not raised in the faith?  In our reading of Acts 25:13-19, a pagan Roman governor has questions about a “certain Jesus” who “had died whom Paul affirmed to be alive” (OSB vs. 19).  Today we look at the testimony that Jesus is alive with fresh eyes to discover the meaning of His resurrection anew. In today’s reading, we find Romans soldiers have rescued St. Paul from a mob and taken him to Caesarea.  He has been imprisoned there for two years.  Now a new governor has…

God Is Working Beneath Our Striving (Wed. June 16)

The word of the day is “beneath.”   When we are under duress, we call for the Lord’s mercy.  Yet, what do we do when we have been delivered from disaster?  As time goes on, the remembrance of how the Lord answered our prayers often fades into the background.  Instead of God’s mercy, how we endured and overcame the calamity remains in our memory. In today’s passage ( Acts 23:1-11), we read Lukes report that  Paul stood before the high priest and council of the Jews.  The Jewish leadership was determined to put an end to Paul and his teaching.  The apostle did not seem to have a chance to defend himself. But Paul found a way to divert the fury…

What Defiles and What Is Defiled (Tues. June 15)

The word of the day is “defile.”  What makes someone, something, or somewhere holy or unholy?  In our reading of Acts 21:26-32, that question put Paul in jeopardy of his life.  When Paul entered the temple in Jerusalem, the Jews thought he had brought a Gentile into their holy place.  Thus,  he had defiled it. Seeing Paul in the temple courts, “some Jews from Asia” cried, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against the people, the Law and this place, and furthermore, he has brought Greeks [Gentiles] into the temple and has defiled this holy place” (OSB 21:28).  The claim about the defilement was false, but it started a riot.  Paul was saved…

When Others Discourage Us from Fulfilling Our Sense of Calling (Monday, June 14)

The word of the day is “discourage.”  If others try to discourage us from doing something we believe that God has called us to do, do we listen to them?  How do we tell whether our resolve is not mere stubbornness?  In our reading of Acts 21:8-14, Paul is bound to go to Jerusalem, although a prophet tells him that in the Holy City, the Jews will “bind” him and hand him over to the Gentiles.  But Paul replies, “I am ready not only to be bound but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (OSB vs. 13).  Today this incident suggests how we can tell that our purposes are right even if the opinion…

The Comfort of Commending Ourselves and One Another to the Lord (Sun. June 13)

The word of the day is “commend.”  It isn’t easy to part with loved ones.  At times of leave-taking, we know that we will no longer be present with our beloved.  And they will not be able to care for us nor we to care for them.  Yet there is one thing  that can give us comfort.  We can commend those we love to the Lord. In our reading of Acts 20:16-18;28-36, Paul meets with the elders of the church in Ephesus for what was likely to be the last time (Acts 20:25).  He gives his farewell instructions that they are to take care of the flock to which they have been entrusted.  Then he commends them “to God and…