This week leads us closer and closer to the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. On Thursday or in many dioceses on the coming Sunday we will celebrate the Ascension of Jesus into heaven. This feast then leads many to begin a novena to the Holy Spirit for blessings upon the rest of the liturgical year and our Christian lives. It is a time of great joy and peace following the Easter season. Many homilies are already presenting the presence of the Spirit by seeing the coming of the Advocate (the Paraclete) after Jesus returns to the Father. The Father and the Son then send the Holy Spirit upon us. We celebrate then what is popularly called the birthday or beginnings of the Church with the descent of the Holy Spirit. This is a proper and excellent way of reading the Scriptures of this week; seeing them through the perspective of the gift of God to the Church through the Holy Spirit.
The gift of God, the Holy Spirit, is testified to what we read about the first great gathering in Jerusalem to unify the Gentiles with the Christian Jews, that is, those who have come in from the Pharisees and from the priests who have converted to following Jesus. We have learned this through the Epistle to the Hebrews where it mentions that a goodly number of priests came into the Church. Concord is reached through the presence of the Spirit as we have already heard in Acts 15. Human dialogue, leadership from James, the leader of the Jerusalem Church and from the reports from Paul and Barnabas have resulted in success because of the action and presence of the Holy Spirit among those who gathered in the Holy City Zion (Jerusalem).
Psalm 67 is a call to the Gentiles to praise and thank God for the good things God has done not only for the Israelites but also for the nations. We join our ancestors, the Gentiles, in the response of this Psalm: “O God, let all the nations praise you.” (Psalm 67:4).
The last image of the Church is given in the Book of Revelation written near the end of the first century where we see a description of the holy Jerusalem descending from above. It has both the twelve tribes and the twelve apostles as symbolized in the walls and foundation stones of the new Jerusalem.
Our readings from the Gospel of John keep us focused on the interior principles and words of Jesus that speak of an all inclusive and encompassing love and the indwelling of the Word and the Spirit within us as believers. Father Roland Faley sums up our passage with this thought: “In his leave-taking discourse, the Johannine Jesus enunciates a recurring principle; the indwelling is concomitant with the word or commandments (John 14:23ff., 14:21, and I John 3:24). Here are the citations:
“Anyone who loves me will be true to my word, and my Father will love him; my Father will come to him and make our dwelling with him. He who does not love me does not keep my words. Yet the word you hear is not mine; it comes from the Father who sent me.”
“He who obeys the commandments he has from me is the man who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father. I too will love him and reveal myself to him.”
“Those who keep his commandments remain in him and he in them. And this is how we know that he remains in us; from the Spirit he gave us.”
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.