Ps 96:1-3, 10
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John.
Jesus said to his disciples:
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.
“I have told you this so that
my joy might be in you and
your joy might be complete.”
Good News Reflection:
In today’s first reading, we see the early Christian leaders struggling to remain obedient to the commandments of God, as Jesus had instructed them to do in our Gospel reading today. Their debate arose from a limited understanding of God’s will, which was based on their past experiences and religious training.
At first, many resisted the new perspective, but because they wanted to be obedient to his will, God stretched them beyond their old thinking. The Holy Spirit helped them let go of the idea that Gentiles must be converted to Judaism in order to become Christian.
Can you imagine what that was like? Sure! It happens to all of us. Just when we think we understand how God wants to bring someone into conversion, it’s we who change. God expands our view. Or we think we know how a problem should be solved, and God comes up with a different plan.
Whenever our methods of ministry bring us to dead ends and brick walls that block progress, or whenever our discernment process gets us nowhere and leads only to debate and disappointment and failure, God has a different plan. We need the Holy Spirit’s help in changing our minds, expanding our perceptions, and letting go of our ideas.
Whenever the training of our past experiences interferes with our love for others, we can be sure that God has a different plan. Whenever the old ways, the familiar tried-and-true ways no longer work, God has a different plan. He’s expanding our view and stretching our thinking; he’s leading us beyond the limits of our expectations.
So how can we be sure it’s God who’s leading us there and not worldliness and immoral compromises? When God stretches our minds, he never asks us to do something that contradicts his commandments. Every time he wants us to grow beyond what is comfortable and familiar, it makes us more Christ-like. This kind of stretching increases our obedience and our love for others.
God stretches us in many ways. Ever notice that after you say, “I could never do that kind of ministry,” you end up in the middle of it? Or if you think you could never be friends with so-and-so because that person is too unlike you, too educated or too uneducated, too structured or too innovative, this is exactly the one God keeps putting into your path! It’s no coincidence. The Holy Spirit is giving you opportunities to grow in new directions and develop new perspectives.
Don’t tell me that God doesn’t have a sense of humor!
Your love, Lord, transcends everything to reach our hearts and dwell within them. Give me the strength to remain in Your love by being faithful to Your Word. Amen.
© 2017 by Terry A. Modica