6th Week of Easter, Saturday, May 15
Acts 18:23-28 / John 16:23-28
Jesus gives final instructions; "Ask and you will receive. "
An amusing cartoon showed a tiny insect peering up at a huge insect. After staring at the huge insect for a while, the tiny insect said, "What kind of a bug are you?""I'm a praying mantis," came the reply. "That's absurd!" said the tiny insect. "Bugs don't pray!" With that, the praying mantis grabbed the little bug around the throat and began to squeeze. The bug's eyes began to bulge. Then, rolling its eyeballs heavenward, the tiny bug screamed, "Lord, help me!" Many people are like that tiny bug. They ignore—even ridicule—the idea of prayer. But the first time they get into trouble, they look heavenward and scream, "Lord, help me!"
What kind of a prayer habit do we have? "He who recovers from sickness forgets about God." Ethiopian proverb
From Antioch, Paul begins the third and last missionary journey. In Ephesus, an Alexandrian Jew had arrived, Apollos by name. Alexandria was then the greatest center of learning in the world. At this University, Jews tried to harmonize the Old Testament with Greek philosophy, especially Plato's doctrine of the logos. They interpreted the Bible as an allegory and explained the moral law of Moses with ideas of the Stoa. Apollos was a great orator, learned in the Scriptures. What he taught about Jesus "was accurate in all the details". Luke gives him credit for this. He preached with great earnestness. Aquila and Priscilla went to the synagogue one sabbath to hear him speak about the Messiah. They made friends with him and discovered that he had only experienced the baptism of John. The painter Luke paints an attractive picture: Apollos, the learned philosopher, sits at the feet of the humble manual worker - the couple and they explain to him the Way. The Way was the name the Church was called then. Simple laymen, full of Christ, can do a great job. Apollos then went to Corinth, where he was a great help to the Church. The learned man was able to teach the Jews and the young Christians what the scripture says about Jesus.
When we pray, what do we want God to do? Do we want to transform God with our prayers and bend him to do our own will, or do we seek his will? Do we have time in the dialogue of prayer to listen to him? Do we realize that he speaks to us in his word, in Christ, in the Gospel? And that he speaks to us in our personal history, the events of life, in people around us? If we pray in the name of Christ, it should be with Christ’s attitude of openness to God and his will.
When we think of ourselves as just one individual in a world of billions of people, we may think of ourselves as insignificant. Yet, when we think of ourselves as a person that God has created and put into a specific time and place, then we will realize that we are unique and that nothing happens by coincidence. In fact everything happens with and for a reason, and with faith we will be able to see that everything happens to put together God's plan.
In the 1st reading, we heard of the appearance of an Alexandrian Jew by the name of Apollos. What was his background, we were not told. And later on, he would move on and there will no mention of him again. Yet, his being there at that particular time had an impact on the missionary work of the early Church and he would be in the forefront of the proclamation of the Good News. Yes, by the grace of God, Apollo helped the believers considerably by the energetic way he preached about Jesus Christ.
Similarly, for us, we too must realize that we walk this way but once. And along this way, God's grace is poured onto us so that our earthly existence can have a spiritual significance. As Jesus urged us in the gospel, let us ask God our Father for this grace to see the significance of our existence. We exist for the glory of God; and the glory of God is man fully alive. May we be alive with the grace of God and bring that grace into the world.
Lord, our God, when we pray to you in the name of Jesus, your Son, give us also his attitude. May we not seek ourselves in prayer nor try to force you to do our will, so that we can enjoy our self-made islands of peace. Make us restless to seek your will and to commit ourselves into your hands, as Jesus your Son did, who lives with you and the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.