Archive for May, 2016

Ascension, May 8, 2016

Monday, May 16th, 2016

We commonly think of heaven as a place far above us, beyond the clouds. Today’s feast, commemorating Jesus’ ascension into heaven, reinforces that idea. As our reading from the Acts of the Apostles tells us, Jesus “was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.”

But heaven is not up in the sky or anywhere else that we would be able to locate. That is because heaven is not a place but a state of being—or, to put it another way, it is a kind of life that is different from the kind of life we are living now. Heaven is a life in which there is no need, no anxiety, no pain or suffering, only endless peace and endless joy in the infinitely loving presence of God, who in the life of heaven is finally visible as no human eyes in this life can see. In addition, heaven is a life lived in community, not only with saints recognized by the Church but with saints recognizable to us: family members and friends who have already started to live this different kind of life. These saints, while focused on their adoration of God, remain nonetheless tied to us and prayerfully watch over us.

In our reading, the “two men dressed in white garments” question the disciples: “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky?” These angels of God could very well ask us the same question in regard to our idea of heaven. Heaven is not a place; it is a life—a life made possible for us by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, a life that he continues to offer to each and every one of us.

see Acts 9:24-28; 10:19-2

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

5th Sunday of Easter, April 24, 2016

Monday, May 16th, 2016

In 2004 a depressed and lonely man in Australia decided to make a large sign with the words “FREE HUGS” written on it and stand with it in the middle of a busy area in the city of Sydney. It took a while, but eventually people started coming up to him and taking advantage of his offer. That was the origin of the Free Hugs Campaign, now a social movement involving people all over the world willing to take the risk of holding up a “FREE HUGS” sign and inviting strangers to share an embrace.

Please note that this is not what Jesus means when he says, “Love one another.”

As Christians, we hear these simple words of Jesus constantly and I think we are aware that the fulfillment of this command is fundamental to living out our faith. But I’m not so sure we understand exactly what loving one another means.

Today I just want to give you a place to start: we cannot love one another without first caring about one another—being able to go beyond that little bubble of self-interest in which each of us lives and have some concern for the well-being of others. Paul and Barnabas, whose travels are described in our first reading, would not have preached the gospel and supported the Christian community in various places if they did not care about the people they met. It is so easy for us to focus on our own problems, without giving a thought to what others are going through. As we await the new creation in which there is no “death or mourning, wailing or pain,” do we really care about those around us who are experiencing death or mourning, wailing or pain?

To love one another is a challenging task. But before we can do what Jesus commands, we have the challenge of caring about the people we hope someday to love.

see John 13:31-33a, 34-35; Acts 14:21-27; Revelation 21:1-5a

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm