Acts 19:1-8 / John 16:29-33
Jesus speaks plainly: “You will have trouble, but take courage.”
Jesus probably noticed the fear on the faces of his disciples when he told them that both they and he would have to suffer. But this did not alarm him. Jesus knew that fear is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a good thing, if rightly accepted.
Chuck Yaeger, the famous World War II fighter ace and great Air Force test pilot, put it this way: “You feed off fear as if it’s a high-energy candy bar. It keeps you focused and alert.” This was also the reasoning behind Starbuck’s statement in Moby Dick, when he said that the only men he wanted in his boat were those who were afraid of whales.
When suffering and fear enter our own lives, how do we respond to them? Do we “take courage,” as Jesus said to do? “Courage is being scared to death— but saddling up anyway.’’ Actor John Wayne
We have to admit that more often than not, we are attracted to the sensational and the spectacular as well as the dramatic. We are more inclined to be mesmerized by the fireworks than to know who invented pyrotechnics or how the development of it came about. So as we read the 1st reading, we might be more inclined to ask what speaking in tongues and prophesy are all about. Maybe that is because we don't see these happening very often and also there is a mystery surrounding it. And if we bother to do some research, we will come across loads of material on that subject and yet we may not be any clearer about it. Yet to be caught up only in the sensational and spectacular and dramatic, we may miss the whole point of the 1st reading.
The point is that when the disciples were baptised the name of the Lord Jesus, and the moment Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came down on them. Hence the speaking in tongues and prophesying are just one of the many manifestations of the Holy Spirit.
It is not so much of the "What?" but rather of the "Who?"
Today also marks the anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady to the three children at Fatima in 1917, and there were six apparitions in all. In 1930, the Church declared that the apparitions at Fatima were worthy of belief.
Again it was not so much of the spectacle of the spinning sun and other dramatic happenings but the message behind it and from "Who" those messages came from. May the Holy Spirit enlighten us with the truth and lead us to a deeper understanding and knowledge of the mysteries of God.
Easter 7th Week, Monday
THE CROSS AND THE DISCIPLE
As Christians baptized in the name of Christ, we have received the Holy Spirit of fortitude. With his help, we should be able to give a place to pain and suffering in our lives. It is part anyway of all human life. But to Christians, it makes even more sense: it was Christ’s way and the disciple can accept in peace and use it for the sake of bringing peace to others. Christ will help us bear it, for he has conquered the world.
-As the Psalmist reminds us, God arises; his enemies are scattered, and those who hate him flee before him., LHM
- As the Psalmist reassures us, But the just rejoice and exult before God; they are glad and rejoice., CHM
- As the Psalmist consoles us, The father of orphans and the defender of widows is God in his holy dwelling, LHM
Lord, our God, when your Son Jesus had to pass through trials, he knew that you were with him and he committed himself into your hands. In this way, he brought peace to people. As people baptized into his name, let your Spirit help us to be brave when suffering and difficulties come our way, that, like your Son and with him, we may overcome evil in ourselves and in the world. May our pains give birth to love and peace and hope for others. We ask you this through Christ, our Lord.
Today’s reading from Acts of the Apostles offers us another example of delayed catechesis. It is hard to believe that the company of twelve at Ephesus became Christian believers without knowing either of the Holy Spirit or the necessity of Christian baptism. The baptism of John, certainly widely respected, was evidently seen by some as sufficient. After learning of this erroneous idea, Paul sees to their baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit becomes part of their lives.
There may be more to this issue than meets the eye. It may well have been that there were disciples who saw John’s mission as “parallel” to Jesus’ mission, with a certain level of equality between the two. This may go some way in explaining something else. The Gospels are at pains to honor John but also to emphasize his inferior status to that of Jesus. Behind all of this may well have been champions of John who were overstating his case.
In the Gospel today, Jesus tells his disciples that they will too be scattered and be left to endure his passion alone. But suffering will be their lot as well. Yet confidence and trust remain the order of the day. The world is set against Jesus and his followers. But fear not! He has overcome the world.
An incomplete understanding of the truth of our faith is a serious concern today. Many of those people today whose faith is firm and education complete learned their religion at an early age. Today the majority of our children are not in Catholic schools. Their religious instruction is limited to one hour a week, in afterschool hours. It is often geared solely to their reception of the sacraments. It is seldom a high priority. Parents and Catholic educators have to see this as a major responsibility. The education and formation of the young is a matter of major importance. It is essential to the transmission of the faith and must be a high priority for parents and for all those who seek to positively shape the minds and souls of children.
Points to Ponder
Belief in Jesus without a Spirit baptism
Our problems today in religious education
Belief in Jesus’ triumph over the world
– That the Holy Spirit may breathe in us the fervor to live consistently our baptismal faith, we pray:
– That the Holy Spirit may give us the strength to carry with Jesus the crosses that come to us in life, we pray:
– That the Holy Spirit may warm up in us our cold hearts, that at times we don’t know how to forgive and love, we pray:
Prayer over the Gifts
Lord, our God,
in this sacrifice we celebrate,
how we have to pass through suffering
because it was the way of Jesus.
Make us aware
that this is also the way of the disciple,
as the test of our faith,
the probation of our hope
and the measure of our love.
Give us the Spirit of strength to bear difficulties
with peace and consolation in our hearts
on account of the joy you have promised
and the fruits they may bear for others,
as an offering to you through Christ, our Lord.
Prayer after Communion
Lord, our God,
you promise us what no eye has seen
and no ear has heard.
Give us the strength of the Spirit
to bear suffering in hope
and as a way to grow in the life of Christ.
May it bring to others the courage
to hope in your promise
of a new heaven and a new earth
and to live in your friendship.
We ask you this through Christ, our Lord.
When Jesus died on the cross and rose again, the world was changed, death and sin were defeated. But we have still to make this true today. Justice and love must still triumph in us today. Let the Spirit commit us to do this today, and may Almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.