The journey through life of the G-Man. His trials, tribulations, and how he rediscovers the Catholic Church.
Sunday, May 17, 2020
Reflection for Today
From A Catholic Moment;
INTRODUCTION We have all lived this year’s Lent as a complete desert experience, and the Easter season in total restriction with no possibility of liturgical gathering. Now the Easter light is gradually going off, yet we still feel the Lenten desert experience within us. Can there still be a new perspective to our hope? The Gospel reading today says yes. Jesus says he cannot leave his own like orphans. The experience of Pentecost which is the height of Easter season is a dawn of a new hope. Jesus promises to send the Paraclete whose role is not just to revive our hope but to plead on our behalf. The promise is an official inauguration of the dawn of a new era meant to complete the tripartite moments of revelation of the Three Persons in the Blessed Trinity (creation, redemption and sanctification); consubstantially One and present in every single moment of the history of salvation, yet each distinguishable in relation to these moments. Thus as we approach the feast of Pentecost, the Church invites us to celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit as a lived experience. And as many hearts are cold and many hopes are lost, and as darkness and forlorn seem to curb our daily living, indeed we need the Holy Spirit, the comforter to be in our company (Jn 14:17). The light of his presence will certainly brighten the future and revive lost hopes.
FIRST READING: Acts 8:5-8 The martyrdom of Stephen (deacon and first Christian martyr) was the beginning of a bloody persecution of the Church that lasted for more than two centuries before the edit of emperor Constantine that legalized christianity as the religion of the empire (edit of Milan 313 AD). The chapter 7 of the Acts of the Apostles which ended with the story of the martyrdom of Stephen equally opened the history page of Saul, the famous zealous persecutor of the Church. The outbreak of a bitter persecution caused the Christians in Jerusalem to scatter and with the Apostles taking refuge within the country districts of Judaea and Samaria thus fulfilling the words of the risen Lord:”You are to be my witnesses not only in Jerusalem, but throughout Judea and Samaria, yes even to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).” Today’s narrative of the mission of Philip (one of the newly chosen deacons) featured within the same pericope of the outbreak of persecution, tells the story of the first fruits of the gospel sown outside the city of Jerusalem. The proclamation of the gospel in this ‘pagan’ land was accompanied by exorcism and healing, both of which testify the power of the gospel; the expulsion of evil and the implantation of good. The seed of the gospel sown could not possibly grow unless it is watered by the Holy Spirit. This was the reason why the Apostles Peter and John went down to Samaria, and through the laying on of hands, the inhabitants received the Holy Spirit.
MESSAGE: 1. Hence we bear the Spirit of God in us, we are protagonists of the Word regardless of our status. The first Christian martyr was Stephen, the deacon, and today the first to sow the seed of the Word outside Jerusalem is Philip, the deacon. Those who were originally chosen to the service of charity eventually became bearers of the Word. We mustn’t belong to the college of the Apostles before we know that we are called to testify Christ, in other words, we mustn’t be ordained ministers in order to proclaim the Word. How do we participate in making Christ known? In which way do we contribute towards the spreading of the seed of the kingdom?
2. Sometimes God uses difficult moments to manifest his glorious power. Indeed the persecution was a bitter experience for the disciples, but it equally caused the spread of the gospel. The Apostles did not give up. One of the best attitudes everyone of us should put on in this life is never to give up in doing good. When it is dark in ‘your Jerusalem, surely if you persist, your light will shine in Samaria.’ Do not give up.
SECOND READING: I Pt 3:15-18 The power of God is so marvellous that it operates even in the midst of impossible situations. It is difficult to imagine how the Word continued to spread even when constantly choked. The answer is the Holy Spirit. Through the action of the Holy Spirit, God kept his own in the midst of persecutions. Peter exalts the Christians today to always reverence God even when their suffering increases for the sake of the gospel. He enjoins them never to be resentful against their persecutors insisting that their gentleness and steadfastness in witnessing to Christ will be a source of downfall and shame to their enemies. Finally, he invites them to see their suffering as a participation in the suffering of Christ who reconciled humanity with God through suffering.
GOSPEL: John 14:15-21 The gospel page today is a continuation of the discourse of Jesus as we saw last sunday. John accounts that the gathering at the upper room cannot be dismissed without Jesus’s solemn promise to his disciples to send them the Paraclete. The Koine Greek Parakletos refers to one who helps in the law court. And its usage in Hebrew transcription refers to one who advocates before God’s court (generally associated with the role angels and prophets) or as presented in the Septuagint (Greek version of the Old Testament) as comforter. It is used by Jesus today for the first time in John’s gospel to show the the identity and role of the Holy Spirit (advocate, helper, intercessor, mediator). Though Jesus is the advocate of mankind before the Father (1 Jn 2:1) and during his life time on earth, he offered intercessory prayers on behalf of his people, but since he will not be physically present with his disciples, he promises the gift of the Holy Spirit who will not only inaugurate another moment in the history of salvation but will also perpetuate the mission of the Christ.
1JESUS THINKS ABOUT US John presents Jesus as indeed a true friend who is not just concerned with the now of his disciples but also their future: “I will not leave you like orphans.” With this we learn that we are never alone in our sufferings and pains and trials and even death. Jesus walks with us daily and shields us from the works of the Evil One. 2 HE MAKES HIS HOLY SPIRIT AVAILABLE FOR ALL Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit is not selective. He does not discriminate. Just like we saw in the first reading, the Holy Spirit received in Jerusalem is the same received in Samaria. The Power of God does not respect borders. It breaks through every land and in every people. But let us know that we can cause this Spirit to be ‘selective and discriminatory’ through our actions that are repulsive and incompatible with his presence. When we do not have the Spirit then we are living for nothing. He is the “Pneuma” (the breath) that sustains our divine life. Therefore, we must always be open to the action of the Spirit, who alone can fruitify our lives. 3 IF YOU LOVE ME… All of us are beneficiaries of the fraternal love of Christ. He makes his grace available to all. But there is a price we have to pay if we must continue to enjoy his friendship. He says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Most of us are often tempted to say, “He understands that we are human and that we are weak. Of course, Jesus understands us perfectly well, and has always been merciful. But one day, we may not have the opportunity for his mercy. If we truly love him, we must first recognize that the same habitual sin is not compatible with him, and never for any reason give excuses for our weaknesses. If we love him, we must renew our lives daily in holiness by transforming our weaknesses and characters. Let us say no to ‘I am human’ syndrome for it impedes us from spiritual growth.
Almighty and Eternal God who through the regenerating power of baptism has been pleased to confer on us heavenly life, grant we pray that through the outpouring of your Spirit, we may be empowered for the gospel and aspire for the life of immortality. Amen.