The Seventh Sunday of Easter
Sunday readings here.
With today’s celebration of the Seventh Sunday of Easter, we find ourselves between the time when Jesus has left His mission completely up to His Apostles, and before they were fully empowered by the Spirit to accomplish that mission. That will not come until Pentecost.
For now, it is good for us to reflect on what Jesus says to us today: “Holy Father, I pray not only for my disciples, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.” It seems to me as if what the Lord is saying is that if His teaching and presence to us on this earth are to be of any enduring value, they must be put at the service of the Lord’s will to bring all people together in faith in God the Father, so that the world may know that the Father has sent the Son, and that the Father loves all of us just as He loves His own Son.
Right here, right now, we need to ask ourselves in a very practical way how the Lord’s gift to us can help us to accomplish the mission that the Lord has put before us. To help us to answer this question we need to look no further than the Words that Jesus will speak to us next week on Pentecost Sunday: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to be with you always. “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Those who do not love me do not keep my words.”
Yes, it always comes down to this: loving Jesus means keeping His commandments. Any accomplishment that we achieve through the grace of God is fulfilled when we give to it the purpose of helping us to better keep His commandments and love Him, which by definition means to love all people as one in union with the Father and the Son. We do need to ponder this truth, and even be awestruck by it, but at the same time we need to understand one of the lessons of the Ascension.
Of course, the apostles were completely dazzled and utterly speechless as they saw Jesus ascend into heaven, but they were soon brought back to earth by the words of the angels who said to them: “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking up at the sky?” While we must reflect on the awesomeness of God and His message and His commands and how they relate directly to our accomplishments, we must not fall into the trap of admiring and marveling at Jesus so much that we forget to follow Him, that we forget that we must do what He does. As Jesus forgives, we must forgive; as Jesus heals, we must be agents of healing; as He loves, we must love. When we get caught between the Ascension and Pentecost, we cannot allow ourselves to become so awestruck by the glory of God that it prevents us from doing His will. Instead of just “standing there” we need to do His will, in the faith that the Spirit of Pentecost is right around the corner.
- Rev. Joseph Maloney, Pastor