Acts 14:21-27; Ps 145:8-13; Revelation 21:1-5a; John 13:31-35
Liturgical time moves quickly. Within one year we remember much of the life of Jesus. For many, this Easter Season is quite beautiful. St. John’s Gospel tells us more about the Holy Trinity than the other gospels. St. John was the cousin of Jesus and about his same age. He was not martyred and lived to be about 100. He had more years to pray and meditate about the life and work of Jesus and the church.
The I AM statements teach us much about the work of Jesus: I Am the light of the world, the Bread of Life, the Good Shepherd, door and key to heaven, I am the Vine, the Way, Truth and new Life, the Resurrection and the Living Water. These are all ways Jesus brings us into his new kingdom and wants to renew all things. As we pray and meditate upon these works of Jesus, great understanding is illumined in our minds. Praise God.
In the next few weeks before Pentecost, at daily Mass, we shall read 5 major teachings about who the Holy Spirit is and what is his major work in bringing us to Christ. Because these texts occur between John 14:16 to 16:13, we miss the full impact on the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives and the world. I’ll share more of that in a few weeks.
With the Acts of the Apostles, written by St. Luke, we have a short history of the earliest church from the resurrection to the first church council in Jerusalem. This history was the work and power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the apostles, especially Peter and Paul. After the Holy Spirit "set them on fire," they went out with great courage to announce the transforming work of Jesus, who wants to make all things new in his love.
Because we understand little of this early history we don’t see the Holy Spirit really working in our lives. We received the Holy Spirit first at our baptism and again at confirmation, if we got that far. We received anointing and power first to be filled with personal holiness gifts and then to be empowered at confirmation with gifts to go out to the whole world, telling about our new life in Christ.
The Acts story this weekend speaks about Paul and Barnabas being sent out from the community in Antioch, where Jesus’ followers were first called Christians. They went forth reassuring and encouraging Christ’s followers to persevere in the new way. There would be many trials. Yet don’t give up. People then and now need great hope of something better than the "hum drum" of mundane life. Because of the size of these "new way" communities, Paul and Barnabas instructed the elders and ordained them as priests to pastor the young ones.
Now, come into modern time. We have been commissioned to do the same things. We are here in an unbroken line from Jesus. We are all over the world continuing to spread the good news. Are we perfect? We all have to keep working out our salvation, repenting of our sins and mistakes and asking Jesus for more grace to continue his work. Older people pass on to eternity. Middle-aged have to keep working to be faithful to the gospels. With the young, we always have to help them find that great meaning of Jesus in their lives. They face greater challenges that older people when we grew up.
The evil ones are greatly at work all over the world trying to distract and disrupt us from our mission. They want to take us off to hell. Together we must band together abound Jesus and fight the darkness with all the tools Jesus and his church offer us.
Friends, let us not give up. Let us continue to follow along with and behind Jesus our Good Shepherd to eternal life in heaven. And let us pray for one another.
Continued Easter blessings,
+ Fr. Bob Hilz
(© 2016 Fr. Bob Hilz, TOR)