Monday of the Fourth Week of Easter

Lectionary: 279

The Spirit told me to accompany them without discriminating. 
These six brothers also went with me,
and we entered the man’s house. 

Saint Luke never supposed later scholars would separate his opus into two different books, nor that the Gospel of Saint John might separate them in the canon of the New Testament. The Gospel of Saint Luke and the Acts of the Apostles form an organic whole and should be read as one book. 

When Luke writes that the Spirit directed Peter or Paul to go here or say that or don't go there, that Presence is just as real and immediate as Jesus when he sent his disciples out two by two. And his disciples were as ready to obey the Spirit of Jesus as when he walked among them -- and more so. 

Their willingness to hear and follow the Holy Spirit's lead sets the pattern for Christian behavior of all time. 

Francis of Assisi had his own ways of following the spirit. He prayed continually, of course, asking God to direct his preferences, desires, wishes and whims. He also asked God to show him in no uncertain terms his own sinful or misguided tendencies. He did not hesitate to do immediate penance for his occasional lapses. 

As when he punished Brother Matteo for the friar's reluctance to assist a beggar. The impulsive Francis was so upset that he ordered Matteo to preach in his underwear. Matteo obediently did so, much to the amusement of the Assisan mob. Francis, coming to his senses, stripped off his own outer garments and stood beside Matteo, confessing his sin to the delighted crowd. 

Later, when he and the same friar were on a missionary journey with no particular destination, they came to a crossroad. He directed Matteo to twirl around like a dancing child until he fell down. And, as the obedient friar sprawled on the ground, Francis decided that was the direction they should take. It worked out well because they found their next city in a civil war. Francis immediately mediated between the angry factions and effected a truce. Clearly, the Holy Spirit had directed Matteo's fall. 

How do we follow the lead of the Holy Spirit? It's not terribly difficult if we renounce our preferences, desires, expectations, presumptions and assumptions and ask God daily, "What would you have me do?" We'll almost surely discover that what we want to do is precisely what the Spirit has chosen. 

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.