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05/28//17 Seventh Sunday in Easter - Fr. Reggie

On the Seventh Sunday of Easter, we are in prayerful expectation of the coming the Holy Spirit next Sunday at Pentecost, just as the first disciples were. The Easter season concludes in a week with Pentecost. How are we preparing for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit?

In today’s First Reading, just after the Ascension, the disciples gather, wait, and pray. The Angels had to give them a little nudge to see that it was over, but they’ve taken the hint and come down from the mountain. However, it is not a John 21 moment; they haven’t returned to their day to day affairs as if nothing had happened. Our Lord had promised they would receive the power of the Holy Spirit if they wait, so they don’t just fill their time with mundane little chores; they gather and pray. We are gathered in prayer today, just as we should pray this whole week, awaiting the Holy Spirit.

In today’s Second Reading Peter reminds us that the Holy Spirit will be with us, but the mission we have received will still be tough. Just before his Ascension Our Lord charged the Apostles with going out and baptizing the whole world. About two millennia have passed. Are we there yet? He promised to be with them always, and that the power of the Holy Spirit would come upon them. If you read the Acts of the Apostles you see he was good on his promises, yet every Apostle but one suffered martyrdom. If we suffer in the name of Christ, we know that the “Spirit of glory and of God rests” upon us.

In today’s Gospel, we’re reminded that even as we wait in prayerful expectation of the Holy Spirit, we know that Our glorified Lord is praying for us too at his Father’s right hand. He may have vanished from the world’s sight at the conclusion of his earthly ministry, but now the Risen Lord has concluded his time with his faithful disciples on earth and ascended into Heaven until he returns one day in the future. All the glory Our Lord asks the Father for in today’s Gospel is now being given to him. He spent his time on earth glorifying the Father through doing his will. Now he can grant eternal life: to know God and to know whom he sent. Now he prays for us to take up the torch, lit by the Holy Spirit, and continue his work.

St. Peter in today’s Second Reading encourages us to rejoice today even when we’re suffering in Our Lord’s name. We should be rejoicing, because Our Lord today is having his parade in Heaven, with all the music and glory he deserves. A parade draws everyone into the celebration, even when they’re cheering from the sidelines. However, if you’re not celebrating, you’re not participating in the parade. We shouldn’t just be rejoicing in our hero until Pentecost, but for the rest of our lives. As long as we remain in communion with him, we are not only on a pilgrimage to Heaven but a parade, celebrating the wonders of God.

There’s one last week to get ready for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit wants to bestow not only gifts but fruits. Gifts come for free if we accept them. Fruits come if we put those gifts to good use. There are many good resources to see what gifts and fruits the Spirit has in store: St. John Paul II’s encyclical Dominum et Vivificantem; the numbers of the Catechism that speak of the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit (nn.1830-1832) or the Holy Spirit in general (Part On, Section Two, Chapter Three—683ff.); the document Iuvenescit Ecclesia by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith speaks about the charismatic dimension of the Church. The Spirit has many gifts to give, some common, some flamboyant, some for many, and some that are personal, intimate, and quiet. Pray to the Spirit, and you will receive gifts. The Spirit always has more of them to give.


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