Saturday of the Fifth Week of Easter

Lectionary: 290

They traveled through the Phrygian and Galatian territory because they had been prevented by the Holy Spirit from preaching the message in the province of Asia. When they came to Mysia, they tried to go on into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them, so they crossed through Mysia and came down to Troas.

So was there something wrong about Paul's plans to preach in Asia and Bithynia? Why would the Spirit prevent him from going to Asia; and not allow him to enter Bithynia? These open territories had never heard the Gospel; they surely needed it! God's plans were not clear at all until the third step of their process when Paul had a vision.
Saint Luke seems to be setting us up for the revelation as he uses that three-step formula, which is so familiar to people who tell jokes. The first two set up the tension; the third reveals and enlightens. 
The point of the story is not simply, "We went to Macedonia"; but rather, we wait upon and listen to the prompts of the Holy Spirit. We cannot move until the Spirit tells us to go.
Just as the disciples followed the Lord wherever he went, going ahead or falling behind only at his behest, so the disciples in the Acts of the Apostles follow the Holy Spirit's lead.
Modern moviegoers universally remember the spirit of Obi Wan Kenobi who spoke to young Skywalker, "Use the Force, Luke!" It taught him the right moment and what to do in that moment. The inspiration for George Lucas' force, of course, was our religion.
Often, in our efforts to do the right thing, we meet opposition. But that opposition might not be from the dark side. It may be the Lord who prevents us and only the Lord knows how it happened:
  • If there had not been an accident on the highway, I would have been there; 
  • or the train had been on time, you would have been there;
  • or the storm hadn't shut down the airport, (something) would have been altogether different:
  • Had I known ... I would have said....; 
  • I would have visited but I was just too tired to move! 
Who can say the Holy Spirit wasn't fixing the outcome of each scenario? More than a few times I was glad I didn't think to say what I should have said! Perhaps it was the Holy Spirit that prevented me.
Serving the Lord, like anything else, takes practice. We can't expect to be Graceful without much time, dedication and practice. We learn from others, we experiment and experience, we remember failures that succeeded and successes that failed. We repent when we discover our egos had blocked the Holy Spirit; we thank God when the Holy Spirit frustrated our egos.
We ask the Lord daily, "Send us your Holy Spirit...."

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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.