Dear Bible Friends,
Our Lord Jesus Christ says to you and me, “The words I speak to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63). Here are some of these words:
The mystery of God’s love for us from King David:
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? -- Psalm 8:3-4
From Saint John the Apostle:
See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. -- 1 John 3:1
So in this difficult time of Covid-19, let us turn to him for help. “I lift up my eyes to the hills [the hills of Nova Scotia all around us] -from where may my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121: 1-2). Read the whole of the Psalm 121 for the Mystery of the Assurance of God’s Protection.
How does God’s help come to us?
Through his Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the fruit of love, joy, peace, etc… the Spirit shows Faith in our lives. “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared [in Jesus, his son], he saved us… through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour (Saint Paul’s letter to Titus 3: 4-7). For the gifts of the Holy Spirit read 1 Corinthians 12: 4-11.
All of these gifts are beautiful and important and are present in the whole body of Christ (more on discovering our particular gifts later). But St. Paul draws attention to one in particular: “Pursue love and strive for the Spiritual gifts, and especially that you may prophesy. …those who prophesy speak to other people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation (1 Corinthians 14. 1-3). Also I want to suggest that another Gift is vital at this time – the Gift of Discernment of Spirits, namely that which empowers a Christian to be an effective channel of God’s wisdom by accurately perceiving a divine or demonic presence in certain people, places or things. This sounds rather frightening but our Lord exercised this Gift at all times – “But Jesus on his part would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to testify about anyone; for he himself knew what was in everyone” (John 2: 24-25). And Saint John counsels all of us, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4: 1).
But God’s help comes to us not only through the Holy Spirit but through the powerful intercession of our Blessed Mother and Queen, Mary – “Virgo Potens” – the Powerful Virgin.
This is why the Blessed Virgin is called Powerful – nay, sometimes, All-powerful, because she has, more than anyone else, more than all Angels and Saints, this great, prevailing gift of prayer. No one has access to the Almighty as His Mother has; none has merit such as hers. Her Son will deny her nothing that she asks; and herein lies her power. While she defends the Church, neither height nor depth, neither men nor evil spirits, neither great monarchs, nor craft of man, nor popular violence, can avail to harm us; for human life is short, but Mary reigns above, a Queen for ever. -- Saint John Henry Newman
What inspiring words on the Assumption! Also read Revelation 12. 1-6
So be encouraged, dear Bible friends on this Saint Barnabas Day, an Apostle and Martyr whose name means “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36). And remember the words of Mordechai to his adopted daughter, Esther – “Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity [made Queen] for just such a time as this” (Esther 4.14). I do believe that it is for such a time as this that God has brought us all into Saint John the Apostle Parish with Father Jim and Father Charles as our priests; that he who is in us is greater than the one who is in the world (1 John 4.4). Shall we by the power of the Holy Spirit through Mother Mary’s intercession be found to be our Lord’s “called and chosen and faithful” ones? (Revelation 17.14). May it be so.