Happy 7th Sunday of Easter

05-21-2023Pastoral ReflectionsFr. Brian Manning

In listening to or reading this weekend’s Gospel, we hear of Jesus’ promises of the Spirit. This passage is a continuation of the lengthy Last Supper “speech” which we have been reading these past few Sundays. Scripture scholars suggest that John composed this long discourse by selecting various words of Jesus from other times. The author John did this so we would know that these words of Jesus are very important, and we should ponder the meaning of His wisdom. Note how these words all have a clearer meaning for us because we hear and read them after His Death and Resurrection; this was not the case for the apostles and disciples. His followers needed time to come to understand. It is interesting that John did not write everything down which Jesus did and said because there would not be enough books in the world to contain what could be written.

Bear in mind that John did write down all we need to know, understand and believe in Jesus. It is through the inspiration of the Spirit that John wrote about the Holy Spirit. Recall in the sadness and darkness of the night that precedes the darker Good Friday, Jesus spoke words of comfort. He promised to give his followers a Paraclete—a helper, advocate, or mediator. Jesus continued to assure the apostles that where the Paraclete is, there He, Jesus will also be. They would see this is all true on the day He returns, that is the day of His resurrection, but also again on that final day at the end of time.

The apostles have to simply accept the words of Jesus at this time and allow time to pass to come to understand them and respond to these words. His call to obedience in these words actually means for them to listen deeply and attentively and also to respond because of belief, not coercion. Jesus’ words here must be accepted by the apostles. It will take time for them to realize what Jesus meant and how they are to respond. Jesus called them to obedience. This obedience means to listen deeply and to heed all He has commanded. Obedience is not slavish or uninformed. It is deeply felt and acted on.

Our second reading continues the story of the early days of our faith. Lots of miracles and marvelous events are quickly stated. We learn of the work of Deacon Philip, Peter and John. It seems that God’s grace is everywhere and is working great things in the lives of many, many people.

We know how disappointing Peter has been at times by his betrayal and cowardice, yet he is the one chosen by Jesus to lead. Clearly we know that he was sorrowful and repentant for his actions. His impulsivity had hurt him, but it also showed that he was honest and authentic. We see him as the emerging and finally the emerged leader in the Acts of the Apostles.

In our passage of the Letter of Peter for this weekend, we hear the wonderful voice of reason. Note that this epistle is not addressed to any one person or group of people. It was written for everyone at that time because there was much tension and persecution going on at this time, around 64 A. D. This was not mayhem and a bloodletting persecution; it was subtle and quietly cruel. Peter told everyone to have forbearance for all this nastiness and not to retaliate. Peter wanted them to imitate Christ and His forbearance.

In the readings this weekend, we learn that the Church is surely guided by the Holy Spirit. We need to develop a sense of the Spirit working and acting in our lives. Christians should know that the Holy Spirit will always guide them and help them in their need. Quietly we are being alerted to the coming Feast of Pentecost, the Coming of the Holy Spirit.

Father Brian