Sunday Scriptures

Be Open to New Experiences of God

by Father William Dulaney

Jessica and Steve believed their marriage was solid. Unfortunately, more frequent arguments and an uneasiness they’d sensed recently had them concerned. Mom and dad eagerly awaited Maria’s birth. On their way home from the hospital both acknowledged the fears and anxieties they were experiencing now that they were parents.
Antonio beamed with pride when his first choice high school accepted him for its honors program. Two years later, poor grades in math and advanced placement history led him to question his ability as a student and his worth as an individual.
How often we embark on a new phase in life’s journey filled with hope, enthusiasm, and joyful expectations only to suddenly find ourselves overwhelmed by feelings of failure, frustration, and self-doubt. What can we do when we experience these negative and potentially destructive feelings?
As today’s Scriptures deal with the Apostles’ preparations for their mission they provide a spiritual perspective, which could help us discover what we can do when life’s responsibilities, pressures, and problems become oppressive.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus’ concern for His Apostles is evident as He prays: “Holy Father keep them in your name” and “consecrate them in the truth.” Jesus wants the Apostles to remain closely united to His Father as they do His work in the world. While he realizes they must be in the world if they are to fulfill their mission, Jesus knows they will need the Father’s help if they are to be kept from harm.
The unity of the Father and Son is the model of the unity all Jesus’ followers should have with the Lord. Through the intensity and sincerity of His own prayer, Jesus teaches that not to be closely united to the Father through prayer is to be left vulnerable to harm and even to destruction inflicted by the forces of evil.
The passage from Acts makes it clear Peter and the other Apostles realized the Lord knows the hearts of all. They implored the Lord to indicate whom He had chosen to replace Judas. Whoever would join the 11 in their ministry needed to have a close, intimate relationship with the Lord.
John’s Letter reminds us if we acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God, God will remain in us and we will remain in God.
The prayerful intimacy with the Lord encouraged in today’s readings can empower, renew, and strengthen us at difficult times in our lives.
When any one of us experiences difficulties in the calling we have chosen, we would be wise not to give up or feel we are failures, but to pause and acknowledge that we need help in dealing with our problems.
Hopefully, we will find the courage to open ourselves to God in prayer. If we are patient and give prayer a chance, we might remember how happy we were when we decided to marry, bring a child into the world, embark on a course of studies, or engage in any other worthwhile endeavor. More likely than not, we’ll realize our original decision was a good one and will be relieved when we discover what was important “then” is still important now. We should experience a reawakening of confidence, a restored sense of self-worth, and a renewed determination to work things out.
As followers of Christ, we live out our vocation to witness to the Gospel in a world filled with difficulties, temptations, and distractions, which could lead us astray or destroy us. As Jesus prays in today’s Gospel, he asks the Father to abide with us. When we pray, we open ourselves to the abiding presence and love of God and discover we are drawn into the bright light of His love – a light which constantly renews itself and is the source of an inner strength that gives us the ability to put our problems into perspective, deal effectively with them, and not be overwhelmed by them.
Lord God, we know you are with us always. Give us the grace to acknowledge your abiding presence and appreciate your concern for us in good times and bad![hr] Readings for the Seventh Sunday of Easter  
Acts 1:15-17, 20a, 20c-26
1 John 4:11-16
John 17:11b-19[hr] Father Dulaney serves as parochial vicar at St. Gregory the Great parish, Bellerose.