Acts of the Apostles 1:12-14
After Jesus had been taken up to heaven the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. When they entered the city they went to the upper room where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
1 Peter 4:13-16
Beloved: Rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let no one among you be made to suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as an intriguer. But whoever is made to suffer as a Christian should not be ashamed but glorify God because of the name.
Gospel Cycle Cycle A
Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you, just as you gave him authority over all people, so that your son may give eternal life to all you gave him. Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ. I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do. Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began. “I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you gave me is from you, because the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them. And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you.”
For those of us who celebrated the Ascension this past Thursday, we are in that short period of time waiting for Pentecost. All of the readings speak to us of this “longing” for the Holy Spirit. They also speak about the doubts that still remain in the hearts of believers.
In the first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, we see the followers of Jesus return to the upper room where they pray. How we would love to listen in to their prayers and to know what was happening in their hearts. Surely they were still remembering Jesus and His presence among them. They must also have wondered what would happen to them now that Jesus had said “good-bye” once again to them. This good-bye seems a bit easier than that of the Cross, but it was still a good-bye.
Yes, Jesus promises to send a paraclete, an advocate, a comforter. But what does that mean in real life? Even now, in our own personal lives, we have to wonder what it means that the Holy Spirit dwells in us.
When we turn to the Gospel we see Jesus telling His followers that eternal life is to know the Father and to know the one He has sent: Jesus Christ. But we must wonder what it means to know the Father. In another Gospel passage, the Apostle Philip asks Jesus: Show us the Father. And Jesus replies: He who sees me, sees the Father.
We come to know Jesus through the revealed word of Scripture and through the living tradition of the Church. We know Jesus in the breaking of the bread. We can see Jesus in every other person. And with the Gospels we can also say that we see the Father in every other person.
That vision requires a truth journey of faith. It is not so easy to look at someone who is causing us problems or difficulty and to say: This is God for me. This is the Father. This is Jesus Christ.
Especially in our own day, we do not like to read into people any kind of spiritual life or spiritual dimension. We would rather see the ordinary person than a person caught up in God. Sure, we do like miracles and we do like extraordinary things. But this seeing of the Father and of Jesus is not that type of miracle. Rather it is simply seeing deeply in the other person a divine presence.
When we can begin to understand today’s second reading, we perhaps shall come closer to understanding this divine presence. When we share in the sufferings of Christ because we are followers of Christ, then we begin to understand Christ’s presence in our daily lives. That does not mean that we shall suffer active persecution. It only means that we will suffer when we are trying to walk on the path of spirituality to which our Lord invites us.
Let us ask today, in this little space between Ascension and Pentecost, that our hearts might become truly open and aware of the divine presence that surrounds us all every minute of our life. May God Himself lead us to verdant pastures and give us repose. Come, Holy Spirit.