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…

Do We Get a Second Chance After Failing? (Sat. June 5)

The word of the day  is “second”  They say that when the going gets tough, the tough get going.  But what about those who are not so resilient?  Is there a second chance for quitters?  In our reading of Acts 15:35-41, Paul and Barnabas debate whether to take John Mark with them on the “Second Missionary Journey.”  In his history of the early church, Luke writes, “Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark.  But Paul insisted that they should not take with them one who had departed from them in Pamphylia” (OSB vs. 37-38).  Today we consider this case of a failure to meet the challenge of service to the Lord.  And we suggest how we might…

The Unity of the Church Depends on Sameness, Not Difference (Fri. June 4)

The word of the day is “same.”   When it comes to what people believe, there are more allegations than truths, more falsehoods than realities, and more suppositions than conclusions based on evidence.  Today, in our reading of Acts 15:5-34, we hear Peter’s appeal for the inclusion of Gentiles in the church and the final decision of  the church leaders in Jerusalem on the matter.  Peter says, “We believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they [the Gentiles]” (OSB vs. 11). To prove an assertion, we must give warrants for it.  The warrant is the connection between a truth claim and the evidence that supports it.  A close reading…

Everyday Ministries That Nurture and Sustain Us (Thurs. June 3)

The word of the day is “work .”  We often concentrate on the spectacular events of the scriptures.  We focus on the miracles, the visions, the outpourings of the Spirit.  And we highlight the disputes, the persecutions, and the trials of the faithful.  But the day-to-day work of ministry is the primary way that the Gospel reaches and nurtures  most of us. Today in our reading of Acts 14:20-28; 14:1-4, we hear of the everyday work of Paul and Barnabas in the region of Lycaonia, Galatia, and of Phrygia.  They must have carried out their missionary efforts over many months.  Immediately before today’s reading, Luke reports that Paul was stoned and dragged out of the city (Acts 14:19-20).  But rather than…

How to Respond to Opposition to the Gospel (Wed. June 2)

The word of the day is “brethren.”  We might have the impression that Paul did not want anything to do with the Jews.  After all, he was the champion of accepting Gentiles into the fellowship of faith.  But in today’s reading of Acts 13:13-24, we find an example of Paul’s practice of first going to the synagogue when he arrived at a new field of mission.  When they noticed newcomers in their midst, the leaders of the synagogue  invited Paul and his companions to address the people (vs. 13).  Paul returned the courteousness of his hosts with a gracious sermon.  Our reading stops in the middle of the speech. The next Sabbath the “whole city came together to hear the…

How the Term “Liturgy” Enriches our Understanding of Worship (Tues. June 1)

The word of the day is “liturgy.”  In our age of individualism, most of us think of worship as a private matter.  It is our choice whether to attend worship or not.  And that decision is based on what we can “get out” of our participation.  But in today’s reading of  Acts 17:1-15, we hear how the church in Antioch “set apart” Barnabas and Paul for their missionary work.  This endorsement and empowerment of their ministry was made in the context of worship, that is, “liturgy.” Luke reports, “As they [the church in Antioch] ministered to the Lord and fasted,” the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and  Saul for the work to which I have called them”…