Becoming “Gospel Real”

Monday of the Fifth Week of Easter
May 8, 2023

Today’s Readings:

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Paul and Barnabas get into a bit of a pickle – actually two pickles.

1- The passage from Acts opens with a planned attempt on their lives:

There was an attempt in Iconium
by both the Gentiles and the Jews,
together with their leaders,
to attack and stone Paul and Barnabas.

Acts 14:5

2- They escape that attempt and flee to Lycaonia where the residents, rather than stoning them, want to idolize them:

When the crowds saw what Paul had done,
they cried out in Lycaonian,
“The gods have come down to us in human form.” 
They called Barnabas “Zeus” and Paul “Hermes,”
because he was the chief speaker.
And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city,
brought oxen and garlands to the gates,
for he together with the people intended to offer sacrifice.

Acts 14: 11-13

In both these situations, the listeners cannot accept the good news being preached to them – One Living God who indwells them and all Creation:

We proclaim to you good news
that you should turn from these idols to the living God,
who made heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them.

Acts 14:15

In our Gospel, Jude asks Jesus about this. He wants to know why he has received the gift of faith and others haven’t:

Jesus said to his disciples:
“”Whoever has my commandments and observes them
is the one who loves me.
Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father,
and I will love him and reveal myself to him.””
Judas, not the Iscariot, said to him,
“”Master, then what happened that you will reveal yourself to us
and not to the world?””

John 14:21-22

Jesus tells Jude that it’s pretty simple. You have to love God and do God’s work. If you don’t, no deal:

Jesus answered and said to him,
“”Whoever loves me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.
Whoever does not love me does not keep my words;
yet the word you hear is not mine
but that of the Father who sent me.

John 14:23-24

In Acts, the two resistant crowds resort to stones as means to reject the invitation to a Gospel life.

  • The gang from Iconium would use stones to kill the bearers of the Word.
  • The Lystra crowd wants to “idolize” Paul and Barnabas, a word which means “to convert to an image”, like a stone statue.

When we try to kill or to idolize something or someone, we distance ourselves from it. We make it “other”, unlike us, unattainable to relationship.

Jesus is real, not stone. He wants to live in us, not be enshrined.

The Gospel is real and needs to be expressed in our real lives – in our actions, choices and relationships.

We must look deep into ourselves for even the smallest place where we kill or petrify the Infinite Love that calls us to become Real within It’s Heart.

Prose: ― Margery Williams Bianco, The Velveteen Rabbit

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse.
‘It’s a thing that happens to you.
When a child loves you for a long, long time,
not just to play with, but REALLY loves you,
then you become Real.’

‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.

‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse,
for he was always truthful.
‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’

‘Does it happen all at once,
like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse.
‘You become. It takes a long time.
That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily,
or have sharp edges,
or who have to be carefully kept.
Generally, by the time you are Real,
most of your hair has been loved off,
and your eyes drop out
and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.
But these things don’t matter at all,
because once you are Real you can’t be ugly,
except to people who don’t understand.”

Music:What Is Real – adapted by Glyn Lehman form The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

Velveteen Rabbit
What is real?
What is real?
And how does it feel?
Does it happen all at once?
Does it happen all at once, or bit by bit?
What is real?
What is real?

Skin Horse
Real is when somebody cares
And you feel alive for the very first time
It won’t happen at once
You will slowly become
You will see yourself through their eyes
See yourself through their eyes

Velveteen Rabbit
What is real?
What is real?
And how does it feel?
Does it hurt a little bit?
Does it hurt a little bit to make that change?
To be real
To be real

Skin Horse
Real is when somebody cares
And you feel alive for the very first time
Sometimes real can hurt
But you really won’t mind
If that’s what it takes to be real
What it takes to be real

It’s like magic when you are loved
Though you are worn, your seams are torn
There’s a glow inside
That is real

Velveteen Rabbit
That is real

Skin Horse, Velveteen Rabbit
That is real

5 thoughts on “Becoming “Gospel Real”

  1. This is so lovely, Sister! Wow… been decades since I last heard about that classic Velveteen Rabbit, 25 years ago during my first year of priesthood as teacher in our diocesan school. Thank you. Just what I needed today. God bless!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Patricia (Trish) Rice, Cincinnati OH

    I just recently started receiving you daily lavishmercy blog
    I absolutely love it. So creative and meaningful. Are you by any chance on the Mercy Creatives group?

    Liked by 1 person

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