Scriptures for today
- Psalm 130
- Ezekiel 36:8-15
- Luke 24:44-53
This passage, Luke 24:44-53, records the last earthly appearance of Jesus Christ. It is the culmination of a number of appearances after the resurrection. Jesus tells His Apostles that all the happenings in His life were the necessary fulfillment of the prophecies made by Old Testament prophets. He tells His followers that they are now responsible to spread the Good News worldwide. However, He says that to accomplish this huge undertaking, they will need a supernatural power, and He instructs them to go to Jerusalem and wait until the power of the Holy Spirit comes to them. The passage ends with the lifting of His hands, His blessing of them, and His ascension into the Heavens.
Christ’s followers from that day forward have the responsibility of spreading and living the good news and love of Christ’s example. Unfortunately, this responsibility has not always been handled well. Too often, individuals sporting the label of “Christian” have not demonstrated Christ’s example and teachings. In fact, even the institutionalized church itself sometimes falls short of being a Christ-like example. One unfortunate result is that Christians as a whole are then labeled as self-righteous hypocrites—or worse-yet, hateful bigots. We, as Christians, must always be wary of morphing or cloistering into cliques that are too institutionalized, too staid, too judgmental, too rigid, and too self-righteous.
Christ imparted the expectation that our lives demonstrate the same kind of love that He portrayed and taught. The responsibility is also ours to share that revelation with others. Yes, many things in life are better shared: a grief, a joy, a meal, an open fire, … and certainly, an authentic living faith.
Since Christ’s time on earth, genuine examples of Christ-like individuals have lived among us–including St Francis of Assisi and Mother Teresa. More than one thousand years ago, St Francis made the decision to abandon his rich, privileged, and rebellious lifestyle of “wine, women, and song” to choose instead a life of poverty. His life’s focus became the repair of the decadent Christian church of the time. Many still consider him to be one of the greatest ideals of an authentic Christian life as he continuously pushed himself in his quest for spiritual perfection. He lived and taught a new kind of emotional and personal Christianity. More of that commitment is needed in our society today. In ultimate discipleship, our goal should be to sincerely live by the prayer of St Francis:
Lord, … Make me an instrument of Your Peace.
Where there is hatred, … let me sow Love;
Where there is Injury, … Pardon;
Where there is Discord, … Harmony;
Where there is Doubt, … Faith;
Where there is Despair, … Hope;
Where there is Darkness, … Light;
Where there is Sadness, … Joy.
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, … as to console;
To be understood, … as to understand;
To be loved, … as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
by Dennis Ruf