Lincoln’s Log 5-16-2021

Back to the Beginning – Acts of the Apostles…

“[Before the Ascension, Jesus told his disciples] … you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Acts 1:8

All through the Easter season, we read from the Acts of the Apostles. This book is a sequel to the Gospel of Luke and tells the story of the early church. Each Sunday of Easter, we read a small snippet of Acts so it is challenging to get the context for each reading.

Here is some context for this Sunday’s reading:

We return to the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles as we celebrate the Ascension of Jesus. The Book of Acts was written by Luke and assumes that we have read Luke’s Gospel of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. He begins the story of Acts with the story of Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit, His Ascension, and a call to mission. For the past several weeks, we have seen the effects of the Holy Spirit in the life of the early church. This week we return to the beginning and hear the promise of the Holy Spirit. We are always living “between” these two realities. The Holy Spirit has come upon the church and empowers us for the mission, yet we are always living in the promise of the Spirit’s coming even more. This tension is what moves us to cry out, “Come, Holy Spirit.”

Today’s reading lays out the mission of the church. As Jesus ascends to the right hand of the Father, He gives the disciples their marching orders (compare Acts 1:7-9 to Mt. 28:19-20). His final words to them send them out to “the ends of the earth.” In fact, Jesus’ description that they will receive the power of the Holy Spirit and then witness “in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” is the story of the Acts of the Apostles in miniature. The disciples receive the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem (we’ll hear about that next week) and Peter first witnesses to Jesus there. Then these missionary disciples move out and proclaim the gospel throughout Judea and Samaria as they are empowered by the Holy Spirit. Finally, Paul witnesses to Jesus in Rome, the gateway to the ends of the earth. We are invited to this same mission.

Stay tuned for next week…

Next week, we hear the great story of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-11). As you prepare your hearts to receive the Holy Spirit anew, join in the prayer of the church for the Spirit’s coming: “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in us the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and we shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth.” Amen.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln

Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 5-9-2021

Previously, in the Acts of the Apostles…

“… Peter proceeded to speak and said, ‘In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.”

Acts 10:34

All through the Easter season, we read from the Acts of the Apostles. This book is a sequel to the Gospel of Luke and tells the story of the early church. Each Sunday of Easter, we read a small snippet of Acts so it is challenging to get the context for each reading.

Here is some context for this Sunday’s reading:

Peter was deeply Jewish and knew Jesus as the Jewish Messiah. He was very skeptical about proclaiming Jesus to non-Jews. What did a Jewish Messiah mean for those who were outside of God’s chosen people? However, Jesus came to save ALL people. God sends a vision to Peter (Acts 10:8-16) which challenges the way Peter thinks about God and who God chooses to save. He had also sent a vision to Cornelius, a Roman centurion, who was a prayerful man who was friendly to the Jewish people. In Cornelius’ vision, God tells Cornelius to send his men to invite Peter to preach at Cornelius’ home (Acts 10:1-8). God is setting up a meeting between the Jewish world (in Peter) and the Gentile (non-Jewish) world in Cornelius.

This encounter is what we read about in today’s reading (selections from Acts 10:25-48). This section of Acts records the first Gentile conversion to Christianity. As Peter preaches, the Holy Spirit descends upon the members of Cornelius’ household gathered there. They begin to speak in tongues and glorify God (signs of the Holy Spirit’s presence). Peter is overwhelmed that God is acting among the Gentiles and these new Gentile converts are baptized on the spot.

God does not act as we expect Him to. He challenges Peter to be open to new movements of the Spirit. God reveals that He is the God of all people. No one should be excluded from the grace of God. Cornelius takes the risk to listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and then to a missionary of a foreign religion. He puts his future and career on the line and trusts the God he does not know or understand. His faith is rewarded.

Stay tuned for next week…

I would encourage you to finish reading the Acts of the Apostles in the next two weeks as the church expands to the ends of the earth. At Mass for the next two Sundays (Ascension and Pentecost) we return to the beginning of the story of Acts and explore Jesus’ promise of the mission of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:1-11) and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the apostles (Acts 2:1-11).

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 5-2-2021

Previously, in the Acts of the Apostles…

“When Saul arrived in Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple.”
Acts 9:26

All through the Easter season, we read from the Acts of the Apostles. This book is a sequel to the Gospel of Luke and tells the story of the early church. Each Sunday of Easter, we read a small snippet of Acts so it is challenging to get the context for each reading.

Here is some context for this Sunday’s reading:

It is easy for us to forget just how dangerous a man Paul (also known as Saul) was before his conversion. Prior to encountering Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-22), Paul was systematically hunting down Jesus’ followers to have them arrested (and perhaps even killed). Then, suddenly, Paul is changed. He claims to have encountered Jesus and wants to join with the other disciples. It is no wonder that the disciples were skeptical. Was this a new tactic Paul was going to use to trap all of Jesus’ disciples? How could he be trusted?

This is what we read about in today’s reading (Acts 9:26-31). It is Barnabas who steps into this difficult and dangerous situation. Barnabas places himself alongside Paul and discerns the dramatic change that has occurred. This son of encouragement (which is what the name “Barnabas” means) “takes charge” of the former persecutor. He listens to Paul’s story and witnesses the depth of change that God is bringing about in Paul. Barnabas takes Paul to the leaders of the Jerusalem church. He encourages them to trust the good work that God is doing in and through Paul. Barnabas accompanies Paul during his time in Jerusalem, encouraging him when his message about Jesus is resisted. Later, Barnabas goes on a missionary journey with Paul (Acts 13-15) and later begins his own ministry.

We all need someone like Barnabas in our life, to encourage and support us when life is challenging. We need a person who can guide and encourage all the good things we are capable of, even when no one believes in us.

Stay tuned for next week…

Take some time this week to read through the Acts of the Apostles up to 10:25. We pick up the story there next week, as we hear how God’s word continues to grow. In an unexpected way, Holy Spirit is poured out upon people who are outside of God’s chosen people (Acts 10:25-48).

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 4-25-2021

Previously, in the Acts of the Apostles…

“Peter, filled with the Spirit, said: ‘… There is no salvation through anyone else [but Jesus], nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.’”
Acts 4:8a, 12

All through the Easter season, we read from the Acts of the Apostles. This book is a sequel to the Gospel of Luke and tells the story of the early church. Each Sunday of Easter, we read a small snippet of Acts so it is challenging to get the context for each reading.

Here is some context for this Sunday’s reading:

After receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, Peter and the apostles begin proclaiming the Gospel. Signs and wonders accompany the preaching and the community begins to grow rapidly. While going up to the Temple to pray, Peter and John encounter a beggar. Peter dramatically heals the beggar who begins proclaiming the good news of Jesus.

But there is resistance. While he is still preaching, the priests, temple guards, and Sadducees confront them. The resurrection of the dead and the role they played in Jesus’ death are the issue. They throw Peter and John in jail for the night.

The next morning, Peter and John are brought before the leaders in Jerusalem and questioned, “By what power or by what name have you done this?”

In response, “Peter, filled with the Spirit, said: ‘… There is no salvation through anyone else [but Jesus], nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.’” This is today’s reading. (Acts 4:8-12).

As the resistance continues to strengthen, so does the faith of the early church. The signs and wonders continue, but so do the powers of resistance. Before long, Stephen, one of the early church leaders, is murdered. But the Gospel marches on.

Stay tuned for next week…

Take some time this week to read through the Acts of the Apolstles up to 9:25. We pick up the story there next week, as we hear how Saul – who oversaw the murder of Stephen – tries to join the disciples (Acts 9:26-31).

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 4-18-2021

Easter Repentance

Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.”
Acts 3:19

“Jesus said to them, ‘Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”
Lk. 24:46-47

This weekend, the third Sunday of Easter, we read from the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. These two books in our Scripture are companion volumes, both written by St. Luke with the intention of telling the story of Jesus (in the Gospel) and the story of the early Church (in the Acts of the Apostles).

In both the Gospel and in Acts this Sunday we read a word that we associate with Lent, not Easter. That word is: repent! At the beginning of lent, we heard the call us to repentance as Ashes were placed on our heads, “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” But that was lent. Shouldn’t we be done repenting by now? After all that work, can’t we take a break from repenting and enjoy ourselves?

We easily forget that there are two dimensions to repentance. To repent means to turn away from sin and turn toward God. Both elements are always present, but during lent, we often focus on turning away from sin. This facet of repentance can make us think of repenting as dour or dark or difficult. But turning away is only one side of the repentance process.

Easter exposes the other, more important, side of the process. In Easter repentance, we turn toward the new life and love of God given to us in Jesus. We repent joyfully. We celebrate the fact that Jesus has conquered sin and death and this celebration is a form of repentance. Sin can’t survive in the presence of real joy. Embracing new life in Jesus drives death away. Our hearts sing, “Alleluia,” which vanquishes fear. It is as if our hearts were empty but are now filled with the love of Jesus. His fullness drives everything else away.

Easter repentance is not dour or dark or difficult. It is cheerful and light and easy because Jesus has conquered death and sin. Alleluia!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 4-11-2021

Risking Easter Joy

“The Joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness, and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew.”
Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel #1

“When we feel joy, it is a place of incredible vulnerability — it’s beauty and fragility and deep gratitude and impermanence all wrapped up in one experience.”
Brene Brown

This time of year I find myself asking, “Why are we better at keeping the 40 days of Lent than the 50 days of Easter?” It seems like we are better and penance and walking the way of the cross than we are at living the joy and new life that Jesus gives us at Easter. I often hear people talking about their Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving; but rarely have I heard someone talking about how they are living with new joy in the season of Easter. Yet, we are in a season that is filled with joy. Alleluia’s ring through the liturgy; flowers bloom; the Scripture speaks of mercy and peace. The message of the church in the season of Easter is clearly one of joy and new life.

Here are some ideas to help you enter into Easter Joy (adapted from the wonderful book, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun):

  • Attend to the people who give you joy. What attracts you to them? How can you learn from them? Ask God how you might celebrate them in a way that encourages them.
  • Identify the place you most readily connect with God. Is it in nature? Listening to Christian music? Participating in Mass? Solitude? Whatever the place or experience, go there. What do you want to tell God about the joy you receive there?
  • Think of activities that give you joy. Do it!
  • Recall some of God’s gifts to you. To celebrate God’s grace to you, write a song of celebration, make a collage (or other work of art) that represents your joy, write a poem of praise, play music and dance before the Lord, or memorize a verse of praise from Scripture and repeat it all through the coming days.
  • Ask God to give you the gift of joy.

What are you doing for Easter this year? Take the risk of joy this Easter!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln

Parish Pastoral Leader

Lent/Easter Homily Series

I thought I would share a few of my homilies from lent and the beginning of Easter. They build on one another and are my first attempt at a bit of a homily “series.” Let me know what you think!

You can find all of the podcast episodes at: Exploring His Kingdom (buzzsprout.com)

Here are the episodes in the series:

The Woman at the Well

The Man Born Blind

The Raising of Lazarus

Holy Thursday – The Battle Begins

Easter Sunday – Jesus Victory

Easter Sequence

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.”
Psalm 118:24

On four special days out of the year, the church uses what is called a “sequence.” These ancient liturgical hymns are used on the feasts of Easter, Pentecost, Corpus Christi, and Our Lady of Sorrows. They explore the meaning of the feast we are celebrating through profound poetic imagery. The texts are not easy to understand and take some time to digest. But they possess a great depth of imagery and spirit.

Here is a section of the Easter sequence for you to ponder this week and throughout the season of Easter:

Christians, to the Paschal Victim

Offer your thankful praises!

A Lamb the sheep redeems;

Christ, who only is sinless,

Reconciles sinners to the Father.

Death and life have contended in that combat stupendous:

The Prince of life, who died, reigns immortal.

Speak, Mary, declaring

What you saw, wayfaring.

“The tomb of Christ, who is living,

The glory of Jesus’ resurrection;

Bright angels attesting,

The shroud and napkin resting.

Yes, Christ my hope is arisen;

to Galilee he goes before you.”

Christ indeed from death is risen, our new life obtaining.

Have mercy, victor King, ever reigning!

Amen. Alleluia.

Easter Sequence

May the Lord give you the blessings of new life through the power of Jesus paschal mystery!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 4-4-2021

Lincoln’s Log 3-28-2021

Betrayal

“The essence of the mystery of the Christian faith is mercy, which is made visible in Jesus of Nazareth… and [is] the deepest storyline of the Church’s story.”
Directory for Catechesis #51

“… the bystanders said to Peter, ‘Surely you are one of them; for you too are a Galilean.’ He began to curse and to swear, ‘I do not know this man about whom you are talking.’ And immediately a cock crowed a second time. Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had said to him, ‘Before the cock crows twice you will deny me three times.’ He broke down and wept.”
Mk. 14:70-72

One moment of the Passion of Jesus strikes us to the heart: Peter’s betrayal of Jesus. We all know what it feels like to be betrayed. Some of us have been betrayed by a spouse or a close friend. We know that the wound of betrayal can hurt more than physical pain. It wounds our ability to trust. It undermines our capacity to relate to others with freedom and vulnerability. We know the pain that Peter’s betrayal inflicted on Jesus. Our hearts break.

But this scene of betrayal takes us deeper. We don’t just appreciate the pain Jesus experienced from the betrayal. More deeply, we identify with Peter. On occasion, we may be innocent victims of betrayal, but deep in our hearts, we know that we have betrayed God and others. That’s why Peter’s betrayal touches us so deeply. We know we are just like him: untrustworthy, fearful, and weak.

The story of Jesus’ passion reveals our brokenness. It shows how badly we are in need of redemption and how undeserving we are. The more we uncover our brokenness, the more the Lord heals us. It is a painful experience to engage Jesus’ passion, but it is the type of pain that leads to freedom.

This week, take some time to read the passion (Mk. 14:1-15:45) and talk with the Lord about your brokenness. Then, listen. Like Peter, you may be moved to tears. But you will not be left alone to wallow in misery. The Lord will come to you with healing love. Mercy is the heart of the Gospel. Entrust yourself to Jesus’ merciful heart which will never betray you.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln

Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 3-21-2021

Defeating Death

“By the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who are allied with him experience it.”
Wis. 2:24

“… Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, ‘Untie him and let him go.’”
Jn. 11:43-44

As lent drives to its culmination, we hear about Jesus’ conquest of the final enemy: death. This is the final Sunday Gospel we will hear before Holy Week. The last two weeks have been building up to this weekend’s Gospel by showing Jesus’ power over sin.

  • Two weeks ago, in the story of the Woman at the Well (Jn. 4), we heard Jesus defeat sin’s power of shame and addiction.
  • Last week, we heard about the Man Born Blind (Jn. 9), which revealed Jesus’ destruction of sin’s power in the dysfunctional systems around us.
  • This week, the final enemy is destroyed.

Death enters the picture with the sin of Adam and Eve. This sin alienated Adam and Eve and us, their descendants from the life of God. “For you are dust, and to dust, you shall return” (Gn. 3:19). That is our condition. We are all going to die, and there is nothing we can do about it. We can delay death by taking care of ourselves, but all of us are mortal and we will die. Through sin, our own sin and that of Adam and Eve, we all are subject to the power of death.

Yet, today’s Gospel reading reveals that, as powerful and pervasive as death is, it is not almighty. In the Gospel we see Jesus confronting the power of death over His friend Lazarus. Jesus is victorious and Lazarus is resuscitated. This victory over the death of one person points us forward to Jesus’ ultimate victory over death through the events we celebrate in Holy Week. It is by His crucifixion and resurrection that Jesus ultimately defeats sin’s greatest power and frees us from the power of death.

This is good news!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader