Monday, 22 May 2017

Easter Week 6 Monday

Readings: Acts 16:11-15; Psalm 149; John 15:26-16:4

The book that we call 'Acts of the Apostles' could just as truthfully be called 'Acts of the Spirit'. The journeys and miracles, the speeches and debates, the twists and turns that accompany the preaching mission of the apostles, clearly happen on a human level. But it is clear that they are also events to be interpreted on a divine level. If it is true, as it is, that the apostles become agents of evangelization in the days and months and years after the Resurrection of Jesus, it is equally true that the Holy Spirit is, first and last, the agent of evangelization.

So we read today that Lydia hears Paul speaking but it is the Lord who opens her heart. The apostles are, as Jesus said they would be, witnesses to the gospel in Jerusalem, Samaria and to the ends of the earth. But their preaching mission would have borne no fruit had it not been initiated and sustained by the Witness, the Holy Spirit, who is working in them, speaking with them, and acting powerfully through them.

We read in the First Letter of John about the three witnesses that confirm the preaching of the Gospel, the water, the blood and the Spirit, in other words baptism and the Eucharist, the sacraments of faith and charity, but always also the Spirit. In today's gospel Jesus says that the apostles will testify but that the Spirit of Truth too will testify. It is a joint enterprise, a work undertaken together: 'it seems good to ourselves and to the Holy Spirit' (Acts 15:28), Stephen is a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:5), Simon wants to buy it when he sees the Spirit working through the Apostles (Acts 8:18).

With our ears we hear the teaching of the Lord's witnesses but it is only the Spirit working in our hearts who enables us to taste and embrace the truth of that teaching. With our eyes we see the good works of Christ's followers and the joy of their life together, but it is only the Spirit working in our hearts who enables us to understand and experience the divine origin of the love they share.

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