At that same time Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and he said, “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way.
“My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
Then when they were alone, he turned to the disciples and said, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you have seen. I tell you, many prophets and kings longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it.”
Prayer: Lord Jesus – Your disciples were amazed at what they saw and heard… what you revealed to them. Renew that same amazement in me… the amazement that I felt when you first revealed yourself to me. Thank you for opening my eyes and ears to the wonders of your Kingdom. May I always approach you with childlike faith. And may I never lose the joy of your salvation. Amen.
[Part of this article was originally published in February 2009.]
I’m not sure why my thoughts strayed to piano teaching the other morning when I was praying. (Why do my thoughts ever stray at that time? A perennial question. Sigh.) I recalled my conversation with Angela about the “hard parts” needing more practice than the “easy parts.”
“Think about it, honey,” I said.
“If some measures are really easy for you, and some give you lots of trouble, how does it help to just start at the beginning and play the piece straight through? You’d always be playing the easy parts just as much as you do the hard ones.”
The Lord now chose seventy-two other disciples and sent them ahead in pairs to all the towns and places he planned to visit. These were his instructions to them: “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields. Now go, and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves. Don’t take any money with you, nor a traveler’s bag, nor an extra pair of sandals. And don’t stop to greet anyone on the road.
“Whenever you enter someone’s home, first say, ‘May God’s peace be on this house.’ If those who live there are peaceful, the blessing will stand; if they are not, the blessing will return to you. Don’t move around from home to home. Stay in one place, eating and drinking what they provide. Don’t hesitate to accept hospitality, because those who work deserve their pay.
“If you enter a town and it welcomes you, eat whatever is set before you. Heal the sick, and tell them, ‘The Kingdom of God is near you now.’ But if a town refuses to welcome you, go out into its streets and say, ‘We wipe even the dust of your town from our feet to show that we have abandoned you to your fate. And know this—the Kingdom of God is near!’ I assure you, even wicked Sodom will be better off than such a town on judgment day.
“What sorrow awaits you, Korazin and Bethsaida! For if the miracles I did in you had been done in wicked Tyre and Sidon, their people would have repented of their sins long ago, clothing themselves in burlap and throwing ashes on their heads to show their remorse. Yes, Tyre and Sidon will be better off on judgment day than you. And you people of Capernaum, will you be honored in heaven? No, you will go down to the place of the dead.”
Then he said to the disciples, “Anyone who accepts your message is also accepting me. And anyone who rejects you is rejecting me. And anyone who rejects me is rejecting God, who sent me.”
When the seventy-two disciples returned, they joyfully reported to him, “Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!”
“Yes,” he told them, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning! Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you. But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.”
Prayer: Lord Jesus – All over the world today your followers are going out as “sheep among wolves” to bring the Good News of the Kingdom of God to people who are lost. Prepare the way for them – open hearts and minds and homes to welcome them. Protect them from the evil one, and empower them to heal the sick and cast out demons in your name. Fill them with joy… and put their detractors to shame. For it is in you that we live and move and have our being. Amen.
Today, Christians—especially those who take their faith most seriously—report that they feel like a scorned stepchild within general culture. They are mocked and derided, and treated as intellectual pygmies who have nothing to offer the better, more enlightened people around them.
And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already, but the Church of faith. She may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but she will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death.
In an earlier post I lamented my feelings of frustration at becoming marginalized in America’s post-Christian culture. Rabbi Alderstein reminds me that Christians are not alone… and Pope Benedict XVI reminds me that God is in the midst of it all.
“If you want to understand us, study our story, learn of our pain.” That is what Jews told Christians who wanted to build new bridges of respect after the Holocaust. Ironically, when Christians begin listening to the story of the Jews, they are finding reflections of themselves.
Christians who listened learned of a Jewish history written in blood from ancient to modern times. When they thought of Christian martyrdom, on the other hand, they had to turn for the most part to antiquity, to early Christianity under the thumb of Roman emperors.