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…

Attention! God at Work in the Sermon (Sat. June 12)

The word of the day is “preach.”  Remember the last sermon that you heard?  What was it about?  What was the main point?  Many of us would have a hard time answering unless, perhaps, the day of the church year reminds us of the subject of the preaching.  But do you remember something that happened in worship?  Do you recall the visit of a bishop or other church leader, an especially stirring anthem, or even an accident or humorous incident that happened? It is more likely that you could call to mind the event rather than the sermon’s message. Today, in our reading of Acts 20:7-12, Paul preaches in an upper room until midnight.  A young man sitting on a…

Maturity Is Reaching the Fullness of Christ (Fri. June 11)

The word of the day is “fullness.”  Most of us would admit that our relationship with the Lord is still maturing.  Yet, in our reading of Acts 19:1-18, we find a faith that is not only immature but incomplete in its basic understandings.  We find that in Ephesus, Paul encounters a group of disciples.  But he finds their belief incomplete.  He asks, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed” (vs. 2)?  They reply, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit” (OSB vs. 2).  Today, from the example of these followers and Paul’s teaching, we learn that our goal should be the maturity of the “fullness” of the Body of Christ of which…

The Ascension of our Lord: a Better Hope (Thurs. June 10)

The word of the day is “better”  Sometimes, our Heavenly Father does not fulfill our petitions but bestows on us a better hope and a wiser answer to our prayers.  For instance, on this day of the glorious Ascension of Our Lord, we hear the last conversation that the Risen Christ had with his apostles.  We find in our reading of Acts 1:1-12 that their last words were, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (OSB vs. 6).  But the Lord declines to answer.  Rather, He gives them a better hope, the baptism of the Holy Spirit that will provide them with the power to fulfill the mission that He has in store for them (OSB…

Humility Opens the Door to the Knowledge of God (Wed. June 9)

The word of the day is “instructed.”  We never outgrow our need for teaching.  Even the most learned among us can benefit from instruction that deepens our faith and guides us in the way of discipleship, the way of the Cross. Today in our reading of Acts 18:22-28, Luke introduces us to an erudite and persuasive teacher.  Yet, for all his knowledge, he still needed to be instructed so that “he could teach the faith more correctly” (vs. 26).  Thus, Luke, the historian of Acts, writes, “When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately” (OSB vs. 26). Today, the example of a cultured man named Apollos teaches us…

The Way to Know God and to Grow in That Knowledge (Tues. June 8)

The word of the day is “know.”  In the Divine Liturgy, we profess that God, the Holy Trinity, is ineffable, inconceivable, invisible, incomprehensible, ever-existing and eternally the same” (St-Tikhon’s 1984).  But does that mean He is unknowable?  About three in four Americans say that they are “convinced” that God exists.  But that does not mean they know God or even care to know Him. Today in Acts 17:19-28, we read of Paul’s speech to the philosophers at the Areopagus (Mars Hill) of Athens.  To begin his argument, Paul points out an altar in the city with the inscription “To an Unknown God.”  And he states, “Therefore, the One you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you” (OSB vs. 23). …

How Pretexts Hide Motives and How to Avoid Them (Mon. June 7)

The word of the day is “pretext.”  Evil comes in many disguises.  One of these is to hide one’s motives under the cloak of pretext.  This tactic of wickedness misleads others into believing that the reasons for one’s actions are good and genuine.  Today in our reading of Acts 17:1-15, we find that envious Jews stir up a mob in Thessalonica. The crowd drags the host of Paul and Silas to the pagan rulers of the city.  They charge that Jason and the followers of Christ have acted “contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king–Jesus” (OSB vs. 7). Today we exam this example of a pretext and find that pretexts are based on motives, the motivations…

Saved from Death Twice (Sunday, June 6)

The word of the day is “saved.” There may be times, God forbid, when we face desperate circumstances. In these trials, we might be tempted to do irrational things that harm ourselves and others.  In our reading of Acts 16:16-34, we find that the jailor at Philippi is terribly distraught when he thinks his prisoners have escaped.  Luke, the historian of Acts, writes, “And the keeper of the prison awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself” (OSB vs. 27).  But his salvation from this horrible fate led to his deliverance from a destiny even worse.  So he was saved twice:  once from physical death…