for the seventh Sunday of Easter
Acts 1:12-14 - 1 Pt 4:13-16 - Jn 17:1b-11a
by Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
Prayer in the Holy Spirit
Acts 1:12, Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day's journey away; 13, and when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14, All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
The apostles, the disciples, and the holy women, including Mary, the Mother of Jesus, have just seen, with their eyes of flesh, Christ rise up to Heaven! What a spectacle! What a mysterious vision! A vision that permeates the memory of those who have contemplated it! A vision that the Holy Spirit will illuminate with the Light of God. For it is the Holy Spirit who will allow Christ's faithful to enter into the full Truth by acting on the memory of believers; Jesus said so: "The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." (Jn 14:26)
The disciples are gathered together in the Cenacle, where Jesus instituted the Most Holy Eucharist, where Christ ordained the first priests of his Church. It was also where Jesus first gave the Holy Spirit to the apostles (cf. Jn 20:22). But the disciples are gathered together, above all, with Mary, the Mother of Jesus: "All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with ... Mary the mother of Jesus." (Acts 1:14) Now, Mary had become the Spouse of the Holy Spirit at the coming of the Word into the world: "The Holy Spirit had already come down upon her, and she became his faithful spouse at the Annunciation." (Servant of God, Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Redemptoris Mater, no. 26) So although the disciples await the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, the same Holy Spirit is certainly at work among all the faithful gathered together in the Cenacle: the Holy Spirit prays in them!
1 Pt 4:13-16
1 Pt 4:13, Rejoice in so far as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14, If you are reproached for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15, But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or a wrongdoer, or a mischief-maker; 16, yet if one suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but under that name let him glorify God.
In this Sunday's second reading, the apostle Saint Peter reminds us that the Holy Spirit rests upon us: "The spirit of glory and of God rests upon you." (1 Pt 4:14) Why does he remind us of this truth? Quite simply so that we might be confident in the Strength that is in us, through the Holy Spirit, in order that, whenever we are insulted for the name of Christ, we might remain faithful to our commitment as Christians! If there is something we must suffer for Christ, and certainly, one day or another, all of us have to suffer for Christ, then let us know that the Holy Spirit rests upon us! He is our Strength!
Jn 17:1, When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, «Father, the hour has come; glorify thy Son that the Son may glorify thee, 2, since thou hast given him power over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom thou hast given him. 3, And this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. 4, I glorified thee on earth, having accomplished the work which thou gavest me to do; 5, and now, Father, glorify thou me in thy own presence with the glory which I had with thee before the world was made. 6, I have manifested thy name to the men whom thou gavest me out of the world; thine they were, and thou gavest them to me, and they have kept thy word. 7, Now they know that everything that thou hast given me is from thee; 8, for I have given them the words which thou gavest me, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from thee; and they have believed that thou didst send me. 9, I am praying for them; I am not praying for the world but for those whom thou hast given me, for they are thine; 10, all mine are thine, and thine are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11, And now I am no more in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to thee.»
Today's gospel shows us Jesus in prayer: Jesus prays to his Father, his Father who is in Heaven! Already, Jesus is in Heaven with his Father! For that is what it means to pray: to lift up one's soul and all of one's mind to God, who is in Heaven. Jesus is still on earth, in the Cenacle, with his disciples. Jesus teaches his disciples to pray: with his prayer, he shows them how one must pray, and what must be said to our heavenly Father. Certainly, this prayer is indeed that of Christ, and many of the words in it befit Him and Him alone. But what is important to understand is the spirit of this prayer: a spirit of gratitude and thanksgiving, a spirit of complete trust in our Father!
When Jesus, who is God and the Son of God, addresses himself to his Father, there is no doubt that the Holy Spirit animates this "conversation" between the Father and the Son. For the Son is the Word of the Father. And when it is Jesus Man who addresses himself to his Father, Jesus God and Word of God sublimes the entire discourse of the Man Jesus to turn it into a kind of "divine conversation", a conversation from which pours forth Love, the Love of God himself, that is to say the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth and Love! When the Father and the Son meet, it is always in the Love of the Holy Spirit!
May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary take us all in her arms, in order to bring us into Heaven, where the silence of God allows us to hear the sighs of the Spirit!