The most recent days’ reflections have done an effective job of shattering any notions we might have that life as a Christian is life free from distress or suffering. If anybody felt any belief in a “prosperity gospel” sneaking up on them, just take a gander through the missalette for the week and that should be snuffed out pretty quickly.
However, while today’s readings lack in promises of earthly smooth-sailing (see: “savage wolves will come among you and will not spare the flock”), they call us to a deeper reality of spiritual kinship, showing how much more fulfilling a life shared with Christ and the members of His Church can be.
Do you think any of Paul’s followers in Ephesus were miffed by his declaration that hard times were coming? Maybe some, but the book of Acts tells this story:
When he had finished speaking
he knelt down and prayed with them all.
They were all weeping loudly
as they threw their arms around Paul and kissed him,
for they were deeply distressed that he had said
that they would never see his face again.
Then they escorted him to the ship.
Likewise, today’s gospel recounts one of my favorite of Jesus’ prayers (it was the Gospel reading for our wedding), where he assures the listeners that while they have endured hatred in His name, the disciples have been “consecrated in truth” and they [will] “share [His] joy completely.”
These examples from Scripture speak to a greater truth that I have been grappling with lately: looking to earthly gratification and relaxation, and not valuing the depth of relationship and call to give of myself enough.
I pray that we may all use the words from today’s readings as inspiration to embrace our giving, knowing that growing in unity with the Father and the Church are the greater, more fulfilling goals.