I ask for the grace to rejoice at the opportunities to imitate Jesus in the sufferings of everyday life.
Reading via the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops website:
A Pharisee in the Sanhedrin named Gamaliel,
a teacher of the law, respected by all the people,
stood up, ordered the Apostles to be put outside for a short time,
and said to the Sanhedrin, “Fellow children of Israel,
be careful what you are about to do to these men.
Some time ago, Theudas appeared, claiming to be someone important,
and about four hundred men joined him, but he was killed,
and all those who were loyal to him
were disbanded and came to nothing.
After him came Judas the Galilean at the time of the census.
He also drew people after him,
but he too perished and all who were loyal to him were scattered.
So now I tell you,
have nothing to do with these men, and let them go.
For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin,
it will destroy itself.
But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them;
you may even find yourselves fighting against God.”
They were persuaded by him.
After recalling the Apostles, they had them flogged,
ordered them to stop speaking in the name of Jesus,
and dismissed them.
So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin,
rejoicing that they had been found worthy
to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.
And all day long, both at the temple and in their homes,
they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the Christ, Jesus.
As our team sat with the Mass readings for each day to prepare these reflections, we looked for those Scripture passages that best spoke of Easter joy. And what could be more joyful than a good post-Resurrection flogging?
We have all sat through a homily or two where the preacher tiptoes around an unpleasant reading involving wrath, grinding of teeth or violence. Our team was similarly tempted to skip this reading from Acts, in which the Apostles are flogged for living out their faith in Christ. But life is rarely sunshine and roses, and pain — in mind, body or spirit — invites a mature response from us who claim the cross as our sign of salvation.
The Catholic writer Heather King writes, “Pleasure is shallow, but joy has pain in the middle of it. Pleasure comes and goes, but joy has eternity in it.” On Tuesday of this week we reflected on the distractive pleasures that are in our control; but Christian joy is a gift that we cannot give ourselves. It comes from without, often enough as the fruit of pain and quiet suffering.
The Uses of Sorrow by Mary Oliver
(In my sleep I dreamed this poem)
Someone I love once gave me
a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.
Music: “This Alone” by Tim Manion
View the daily readings at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops website.
Image via www.helensjournal.wordpress.com.