The Good Word for May 3rd

For the complete Sunday readings click here.

Every summer when I was a Boy Scout, my troop went to S-F Ranch Boy Scout Camp in southern Missouri. One summer, when I was an older scout, we decided to do the high adventure experience held on the unsettled half of the camp. No tents. No running water or electricity. No campsites.

Every night we had to set up camp, build a shelter, purify water, and rehydrate the food packets we carried. We learned a little bit about survival skills, though most of us would probably have freaked out if we really had needed to use them.

One thing I remember from my time in the “wild,” is how long people generally survive without food, water, and shelter. People can go three weeks without food. It isn’t pleasant, but survivable. Water is less; we can only survive about three days without water (though some have survived longer). The strange one is shelter; if the weather is bad then we need shelter fast, as soon as three hours.

In the gospel this week, Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” He explains that branches only bear fruit when they remain connected to the vine. Why? The vine feeds the branches. The vine pulls water and nutrients from the ground and brings them to the branches. Without the vine, the branches not only don’t bear fruit, but they die and become waste that is burned.

Without Jesus Christ, we will spiritually die. Without remaining connected to Jesus, we won’t survive very long. But Jesus doesn’t just supply us with spiritual water or food or shelter. Jesus offers us the Holy Spirit, the breath of God. This spirit is like oxygen. While we would die within hours or days or weeks without shelter, water, and food, we die within minutes if we don’t have oxygen. The Holy Spirit is that breath of spiritual life that without, we die almost instantly.

Do you feel spiritual dead right now? I have to admit I feel like that more often than I should. It isn’t because God has abandoned us. It’s because we aren’t taking spiritual breaths, eating and drinking spiritual food. It is because we aren’t connected to the vine. To be connected we breath in the Holy Spirit, consume true food in the Eucharist, and drink deeply of the water that fully satisfies by reading scripture. May we be branches that bear much fruit!

Live It:
Take a deep breath. Then take 2nd deep breath, but this time pray this three-word prayer, “Come Holy Spirit.” Do this as many times as it takes.

The Good Word for January 25

For the complete Sunday readings click here.

In the gospel today two things happen. First, Jesus declares that the kingdom of God is at hand. Second Jesus calls his first disciples to follow him. Though it doesn’t seem like it, these two sections of the gospel are very much interrelated.

When Jesus declares the kingdom and invites us to repent and believe, he really is announcing good news! In the kingdom of God the hungry are fed, the broken are fixed, the angry are calmed, the sick are healed, the lonely are included, the thirsty are given water, the tired are given rest, the naked are clothed, and much more! This is great news, but lets make it more tangible. By the time you are done reading this blog, 3 people, likely children, will have died from unclean drinking water (get the facts on clean water.) In the kingdom of God that Jesus is declaring, that won’t happen. This really is good news.

Jesus then invites us to repent, which is another way of saying that we have the opportunity to repent because in the kingdom of God, the sinner can be forgiven. He then ends his statement by saying that we can trust this good news to be true.

The very next story is about Jesus going out to call people to follow him, see the good news first hand, and then continue to spread the good news through their lives. Jesus declares the kingdom and then calls people to live it.

The thing is that you and I are also called. Jesus Christ is calling us to not just be Christian in name, but to be true believers of the kingdom of God, the good news that sins are forgiven and all will be made right. And as disciples, just like Simon and Andrew, James and John, we are called to go out and tell others about the good news.

Live It:
Sometimes it’s hard to really hear the good news because we’ve heard stories about Jesus our whole life. This week take out your Bible (or look it up here) and read John 3:16-17 and pretend you are reading it for the first time. It really is good news.