Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Reflections for the 3rd Week of Easter, Part 2

Thursday – The Ethiopian

The Ethiopian didn't understand what he was reading, but he wanted to. He longed to comprehend what the prophet Isaiah was saying about this mysterious Man Who so willingly gave up His life. But he didn't know where to find any answers.

Then, suddenly, a man appeared out of nowhere and ran up to the Ethiopian. “Do you understand what you are reading?” the man asked. “How can I,” the Ethiopian replied, “unless someone instructs me?” He had a feeling that this man was the one who could do just that.

And the man, the deacon Philip, did. He opened his mouth and proclaimed the Gospel, explaining in detail how the passage in Isaiah was fulfilled by Jesus Christ.

The Ethiopian recognized truth when he heard it. His heart was touched, and his mind opened. He believed in the Gospel, accepted Christ, and longed for the baptism that would bring sanctifying grace into his soul. Spying some water, he exclaimed, “Look, there is water. What is to prevent my being baptized?” Absolutely nothing as far as Philip was concerned. He baptized the Ethiopian on the spot. But when the Ethiopian turned around, Philip was gone, swept away by the Spirit.

The Ethiopian didn't mind. He continued his journey homeward, filled with a deeper joy than he had ever known. He was heading toward his physical homeland, but now he was also on the road to Heaven.

Friday – A Sudden Conversion

Bang! Light flashed. Saul fell to the ground. A voice rang out, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” “Who are You?” Saul cried. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”

Saul's whole life changed in that instant. The old man, the one who was bent on persecuting Christians, was gone. The truth crashed into his consciousness. Everything he thought he knew was swept away in a flood of a reality he had never even imagined.

Jesus continued, “Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.” Saul obeyed immediately, discovering that his physical eyes had been blinded by the intense encounter he had just experienced. Somehow that didn't matter all that much, though. His spiritual eyes were open, and now he could see what was really important. He realized that his newly found Lord had a mission for him, and he was ready to give his whole life to the One he had formerly scorned. As Saul walked along, led by his bemused companions, he reflected on how suddenly life could change.

Saturday – They Went Away

They went away. They simply couldn't grasp Jesus' teaching. They couldn't understand how He could be the Bread of Life, how they could eat His flesh and drink His blood. They didn't know how to trust, how to have faith even in the darkness of fear and confusion. They couldn't accept Jesus' words. So they left.

How often we do that even today! We can't see beyond our preconceived notions of how the world should be. Some point of Jesus' teaching is unclear to us. We can't understand it, and we think we know everything, so we decide that it can't possibly be true. And we go away.

The problem, however, lies with us, not with Jesus and His teaching. Our limited human understanding will not always grasp divine mysteries. We are not meant to know everything. We will not see everything clearly. That's where faith comes in. That's where we need to learn to live in the darkness of mystery. That's where we need to learn to trust that Jesus knows infinitely more than we do, sees infinitely farther than we do, and has a plan for each of us that extends infinitely beyond the plans we have for ourselves.

Let us not go away, then. Let us humble ourselves and recognize our limitations. Let us trust our Lord. Let us cling to Him in the darkness. Let us embrace the mystery. He knows what He is doing, and He has a plan to bring us to eternal happiness, face to face with Him in Heaven.

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