Awaiting The Spirit
Seventh Sunday of Easter (21/05/2023)
(Acts 1:12-14; Psalm 27:1, 4, 7-8; 1 Peter 4:13-16; John 17:1-11a)
Fr. Samuel Odeh
“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). Today is the Seventh Sunday of Easter. We are at a time in our Sunday worship between the Ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven and Pentecost, which is next Sunday, when we will celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit. What is the best way to spend this time as we prepare to celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit?
In our first reading today we are told that the apostles, just after witnessing Jesus ascending into heaven on Mount Olivet, returned to Jerusalem, to the upper room, the same room of the Last Supper, where Jesus had shown himself to them on Easter Sunday and the Sunday after that, to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. We are told that “together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers,” “All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer” (Acts 1:14). We also are called to devote ourselves to communal and individual prayers for another outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon us, but let us take a moment to recall the journey that has brought us this far, this year. We began this spiritual journey with Lent praying, fasting, and giving alms. Lent was itself a preparation for Holy Week and Easter. Some of us were actively involved and participated in all the activities but some of us did not.
Like all the disciples in that upper room in Jerusalem, we can ask, what is our current state of mind with respect to the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ? Are we sad and disappointed? Are we confused, full of fear and doubt, and find Good Friday hard to accept, to understand? Or do we still believe all about Jesus Christ and his God and Father? Are we full of joy and hope because of what Jesus has done for us? Do we hunger for the help through the Holy Spirit that Jesus has promised to give to us?
What therefore should be the content of our prayers as we await the outpouring of the Holy Spirit? Today’s gospel reading is a selection from the very long Last Supper prayer of Jesus titled, The Priestly Prayer of Jesus Christ, from the seventeenth chapter of the Gospel according to John. It is the prayer of Jesus to God the Father on behalf of all who will come to believe in him. His chief concern in this prayer is that his disciples will be united: “.. that they may all be one…” (John 17:21). This Sunday, let us pray that we will all come together as a community to become a people who unite and reconcile rather than a people who divide and scatter. Let us pray that the Spirit will make our lives new and set our hearts on fire with love and charity. May the Holy Spirit give us peace, a peace that only the Spirit of Jesus can give. May he give peace to our hearts, peace to our families and our homes, peace to our communities, and peace to our country.
As we await the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, let us pray with Jesus to the Father that we be delivered from the unclean spirits of selfishness, greed, lust, lust for power, competition, thoughtlessness of the needs of others, judgmental attitudes, and intolerance. This week let us pray that we as a Christian community will be a people who build communion, a people of mercy, a people of love, and a people ready to be filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit. When we pray for the gifts that God himself already wants to give to us, miracles happen. When Pentecost comes, may the Lord loosen our tongues so that we will be able to share his good news with others so that they also may rejoice.
Come Holy Spirit fill the hearts of thy faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of thy love.
Send forth thy Spirit and they shall be created, and thou shalt renew the face of the earth.