May 21, 2007 – Monday of the 7th Week of Easter
Acts 19, 1-8; Jn 16, 29-33
Caldey Abbey, Caldey Island, Wales, UK
H O M I L Y
One thing that strikes me in the readings from the Acts of the Apostles that we have during this Easter Season is that there were many ways of becoming a Christian during that first Christian generation. It is also fascinating to see how the community of believers gradually became a Church and gradually gave itself structures in answer to new situations and new needs.
Paul and Apollos had both become disciples of Christ in unconventional ways, Paul through his experience on the road to Damascus and Apollos through his study of the Scriptures as a fervent Jew. In today’s reading we see that Paul found in Ephesus, pretty far for Judaea and Galilee, disciples of Jesus who had received the baptism of John. This means that not only the Apostles and their disciples but also John the Baptist’s disciples had brought the faith in Jesus Christ to the land of the Nations. Then these disciples heard Jesus’ message and were baptized, and they received the Holy Spirit promised by Jesus.
That promise of Jesus was not only for the early Church. It was for the Church of all times. It was for us. To us also Jesus is sending his Holy Spirit and these days between the celebration of Ascension and Pentecost are days when the liturgy reminds us of that gift and of the need to dispose ourselves to it.
We celebrate this morning a mass of the Holy Spirit at the beginning of a Regular Visitation, which is a time when, as a community, we want to discern God’s graces on our community and also the calls to new growth He may be addressing to us. When we pray the Holy Spirit in such circumstances, we don’t ask Him to tell us what we should do – either through internal illumination or through external signs. We rather ask him to purify our hearts so that we might be able to see the persons and the events with God’s eyes ad then take the necessary decisions. He will not take them for us.
In the Gospel we just heard, which is from the last part of Jesus’ discourses to his disciples at the Last Supper, just before his death, He speaks of his last hour, when the disciples will be scattered and he will be left alone, he adds this very important statement: Yet I can never be alone; the Father is with me. And he adds that he is telling those things so that they may find peace in Him.
As a Christian community – whether we are talking of the Church as a whole, or of a local Church as our monastic community is, we are always running the risk of being scattered. Then the only way to find peace is by listening to Jesus’ words over and over again. He does not speak of “keeping” our peace, but of “finding” it. It is not something that is given for ever. It is a treasure that we must seek and find day after day. Jesus finds His peace in the knowledge that even when his disciples are scattered he is not alone because the Father is with Him.
Let us ask the Spirit that we have received to make us more and more aware of the presence of the Father and of His Son in our lives, so that we might be able to see ourselves and our community as God sees us, to experience his love for us and the calls to growth that come with that love.