Sixth Sunday of Easter
Acts 15:1-2,22-29 John 14:23-29
What would the world be like if the dreams and plans of creative persons were guaranteed positive outcomes? Fear of failure destroys creativity and has probably robbed the universe of great inventions and endeavors. Why spend time and money on something that won’t produce the desired result? Play it safe and produce something that will be useful and lasting seems to be a rational mindset.
Today’s readings demonstrate that out of chaos was born a religion founded by risk-takers and people who were almost guaranteed failure. Jesus’ death by public execution was devastating for all who supported his claim to be God. This was their world, obvious to all but guided by an unseen Holy Spirit. Before departing, Jesus reassured the followers that spiritual forces would support that movement to continue his mission.
Between Easter and Pentecost, the faithful were traumatized by how the life of Jesus ended, and their imprisonments and rejections resulted in a deeper desire to spread a gospel of love in an atmosphere of hate. They were driven to replace the Jesus who was taken from them because if they didn’t, all would be for naught.
The first reading reveals that not all were like-minded in how these Jews who were converted would sow seeds of a new way of worshiping God. Leadership and solidarity were at a critical juncture, and the discussions, decisions, and procedures had to be the result of what was heard and must be acted upon after consensus. All of this occurred under the unseen Holy Spirit.
The paradoxical situation that existed for Jesus was that he knew the Father and knew the cup of suffering would not be withheld. The human experience culminated with death on a cross, and that image is the sign and symbol of what followers through the centuries focus on because it was by this death all of us had been redeemed. Jesus’ death is the conclusion of a temporary life among us but is not the final ending. What we celebrate is victory over death: his death and the deaths of all who believe in the teachings of Jesus.
The problems of the early church make it clear that Jesus and the men and women who had personal experience of his death and resurrection were not always going in the same direction. A history of Catholic hierarchy and laity has shown that despite fractured relationships and strong-willed people, the Spirit will keep the faith alive. The human church was conceived in fragility and has endured. This knowledge directs us to acknowledge our broken world and personal weaknesses and plod on as Resurrected worshippers rather than Good Friday mourners, especially as we are given these fifty days of celebration.
Sr. Dorothy Maxwell, OP