The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith” (Luke 17:6)
The Gospels speak of the apostles and they are portrayed as fallible human beings. I suspect many of us recognise that cry to ‘increase my faith’. I may think that my faith needs increasing because I do not feel that I’m up to the challenges that I must deal with. I may think my faith needs increasing due to doubts I am experiencing. I may think my faith needs increasing so that I can let go of my control. Then I can pray wholeheartedly ‘your will be done’.
The ups and downs of life as well as the uncertainty of teenage existence can be markers of growth – with more faith. Our role is to be real about our faith…and its shortcomings. So that when we pray ‘increase our faith’ we are praying with, as well as for our young people.
Have a great week!
Easter is the feast of hope. Whether we look at our own lives or at the world generally, we need hope. Pain, suffering and even death do not have the last word. However, the hope of Easter comes through the cross. With the eyes of faith we can spot this pattern in our own lives and in the world at large. It might be the pain of distance or addiction or the death of a loved one – with a view that is long enough and dollops of the grace of patience and perseverance we can see things turning towards the full life to which we are called (John 10:10).
The full life has us connected with others rather than isolated. The full life includes time for prayer and reflection which act as a ground for our life to ensure that we connect to our best and truest selves. The full life includes going out of ourselves in love towards others. A full life includes being open to God’s graces that abound which may include moments of revelation and salvation – about ourselves, our relationships with others and God or life in general.
May we each continue the work to bring our full life closer this Easter
As we mark Holy Week, leading to Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection, there are so many places in the world today where suffering abounds. It might be the victims of another terrorist attack – in the Middle East, Egypt, Stockholm, London or elsewhere. It might be the victims of a chemical weapon. There are numerous situations of ‘conflict’ or ‘unrest’ throughout the world where people suffer, such as in South Sudan. We might also consider how many are oppressed in God’s name today.
There are millions of refugees worldwide – fleeing from situations of death, suffering and pain. They may have watched a loved one be killed, tortured or raped – or endured themselves.
We raise our hands to heaven and ask ‘when will it end?’ Better still to ask ‘how is my government treating refugees in my name?’ and ‘how can I be God’s heart and hands in this situation?’
The time is coming when people will be insane, and when they see someone who is not insane, they will attack that person saying: “You are insane because you are not like us.”
Abba Anthony (3rd century CE)
For Oscar Romero at his feast day
A life of integrity
Cut short by power,
Deaf and blind
To the inconvenient truth.
Freely given for faith
Especially of the little ones
As you celebrated
With your very person.
Your deeds and words
Reverberate across the years
Touch my heart
And inspire me
As a disciple
Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.’ (Luke 22:42)
When I am under pressure, I can forget my faith, I can forget to pray. Jesus’ faith in this situation is both real and exemplary. It is real because no sane person wants to suffer. It is exemplary because he transcended his own needs and fears. As humans, we don’t have all the answers but must trust in God. Our reliance on God is a facet of the full life toward which we are all called at Easter. Our reliance on God takes us away from self to see a bigger picture where we can each play our part to build community.
It’s also very human to expect an answer to our prayer on our terms. We may dress up our desire expertly, but if we scrape past the veneer ‘what we want’ from God can seem childish, placing God in the role of indulgent parent. Rather, if we trust in God our prayer will be answered – but maybe not as we expected: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference”
Have a great week!
Lord, teach us to pray (Luke 11:1)
At this point in Luke’s Gospel, the apostles have been assembled, missioned, returned and witnessed many miracles by Jesus. Some even had a glimpse of Jesus’ divinity at the Transfiguration. The apostles are beginning to realise their need to be connected to God to continue their ministry. They’ve witnessed Jesus taking time away to pray – so who better to ask about prayer?
Jesus teaches them a prayer which emphasises community – Our Father – as well as the need to acknowledge God for everything we have. We are also commissioned to bring God’s kingdom, a place where peace and justice prevail. Also, if we are focussed on God’s will, we do what is our true heart’s desire – what we were made for – rather than some ego-fuelled flight of fancy. This prayer reminds us of our gifts and missions us to build community including those who are despised or forgotten. Sound teaching.
Have a great week!