Holy Spirit

ACTA

LECTIONARY COMMENTARY

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Year of Luke

 

 

READINGS

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles 5:12-16

Responsorial Psalm Psalm 118:2-4. 22-27. R/. v.1

A reading from the first letter of the Apocalypse
1:9-13. 17-19

A reading from the holy Gospel according to John 20:19-31


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Because of our sins, our many sins, the work of popes, cardinals, bishops, priests, and peoples, Christian Churches, Catholic and Protestant, in many parts of the world have lost many people. That is one reason why reading St Luke’s second volume may be a painful experience. His Gospel begins with the birth of Jesus in the little town of Bethlehem. His second book begins with the birth of the Church in the city of Jerusalem. As Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favour with God and man (Luke 2:52), so the huddled upper room of apostles, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers and sisters (Acts 1:14) morphed into enthusiastic communities of Christians. The faith of those few was ignited by the flame of the Holy Spirit and soon churches were born in Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria, throughout Asia Minor, southwards to Ethiopia, westward into Europe, to the cities of Greece, and eventually further west to Rome. What the risen Lord Jesus promised in his last words before he ascended came to glorious fulfilment:

… you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
Acts 1:8

In the Year of Luke we are exposed not only to his Gospel story of Jesus but to his story of the churches that came into being in response to the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus by his disciples. Luke’s account of the new churches is a continuation of the story of Jesus. It is a repetition of the Jesus story. It is what happens when wanderers are turned into pilgrims.

Indeed, from Luke’s perspective, there is only one story, the story of God loving the world in the person of God’s Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit. To walk with Jesus from Nazareth to Jerusalem, from Jerusalem to Rome, is to walk the way of God.

It is clear that Luke is not writing straight history. Rather he is preaching the gospel. What he has done, in Gospel and in Acts, is to select from the rich tapestries of the life of Jesus and of the memories of the first Christians and create a single story, the story of Jesus and his Church. The best way to come to know and understand Luke’s Acts is to read Luke’s Gospel.

There are 77 extracts from Acts, Luke’s second volume, in the readings at Masses throughout the Sundays of the three years in our Lectionary. Listen carefully. You will soon realise that for Luke the story of Jesus becomes the story of the Church. You will learn that for however long the Church exists in this world, the Church must not only proclaim the life of Jesus. It must live the life of Jesus. In both Gospel and Acts you will meet Christian Jews and Christian Gentiles. You will meet more women in Luke and Acts than in the other Gospels. You will rub shoulders with rich and poor Christians, even some from the ruling elite. In other words, the people who run through Luke’s pages, while belonging to their time and place, are remarkably close to the people of our time and place. From Low Sunday to the days of Pentecost we will listen to Luke’s Book of Acts and learn from where we have come and how little churches took their first steps of the way with Jesus to the Father. If we walk with them, we will be walking the way to God.

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles 5:12-16

Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all in Solomon's Portico. None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem. And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.
The word of the Lord.

Luke’s summary of the untroubled public acceptance of the apostles is at variance with what has gone before. To be sure, we have heard of the approving crowds who listened to Peter on Pentecost day. Full of the Holy Spirit, he won over “three thousands souls” (Acts 2:41). But we have heard, too, that “the priests and the captain of the Temple and the Sadducees” laid hands on Peter and John “because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead”. The apostles were taken into custody, not before the many who had heard the word and “the number of men came to about five thousand”. On the following day, before “their rulers and elders and scribes … with Annas the High Priest and Caiaphas” (Acts 4:5-6), Peter boldly proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus before those who had caused him to be crucified. Though they were amazed at the eloquence of these “unlearned and ignorant men” (Acts 4:13), they had them locked up.

What is clear is that Luke is trimming his account of the earliest days after the coming of the Holy Spirit upon all those assembled in that famous upstairs room. He wants the story of the earliest communities of Christians to parallel the beginnings of the Jesus story in his Gospel. We will recall that the people in Nazareth’s synagogue ”marvelled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth” (Luke 4:22). Yet within minutes “they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so they could throw him down the cliff” (Luke 4:29). What we have in Acts is a repetition of what Luke has narrated in his Gospel about the hostility shown to the first preachers. Likewise it is no surprise that the sick from near and far are brought to Peter and John to be healed. Luke reported a similar incident in his Jesus story:
Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them.
Luke 4:40

I repeat. To understand Luke’s Acts, we must read Luke’s Gospel. What Luke did was to present his story of the Church as a reprise of the story of Jesus.

 

Responsorial Psalm Psalm 118:2-4. 22-27. R/. v. 1

R/. Give thanks to the Lord for he is good;
his steadfast love endures forever.

Let Israel declare,
“His steadfast love endures forever”
Let the house of Aaron declare,
“His steadfast love endures forever”.
Let those who fear the Lord declare,
“His steadfast love endures forever”. R/.

The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
This is the Lord’s doing;
it is marvellous in our eyes.
This is the day that the Lord has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it. R/.

Save us, we pray, O Lord!
O Lord, we pray, give us success!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
We bless you from the house of the Lord.
The Lord is God,
and he has made his light to shine upon us.

R/. Give thanks to the Lord for he is good;
his steadfast love endures forever.

Psalm 118 is a treasure. It is one of many psalms that shout the joy of experiencing the steadfast love of God, the only love that endures forever. Many of the books in the Hebrew Scriptures point to God’s steadfast love as it graces the individual or the whole people of God. It is at once a personal and a community experience of the enduring love that comes from the heart of God. Five times in Psalm 118, our responsorial prayer today, we are called upon to join the psalmist offering praise. Steadfast love walks the way with men and women whether in days of joy or days of woe.

Psalm 118 seems to be a celebration of victory, perhaps a prayerful response to the joy of returning from the exile in Babylon and the beginning of the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. The individual in the psalm represents the whole community at prayer, remembering the miseries and dangers of the dark days of exile, remembering the days when no songs were sung. But the prayer went up,

Save us, we pray, O Lord! Psalm 118:25

In God’s good time, God opened the gates of victory (verse 19). The psalmist calls on the faithful to bless God “in the house of the lord”:

We bless you from the house of the Lord.
The Lord is God.

Psalm 136 is a Passover Psalm, a psalm that is called in Jewish worship the Great Hallel, the great psalm of praise, an Alleluia song. It is sung in the synagogue morning service on Sabbath days. The practice is that a chanter intones the first line of each verse and the congregation respond with the refrain,

His steadfast love endures forever.

God’s love is eternal. There is no end to it. God’s love embraces the whole of humanity, reaching out to those in most need of love, to those who do not know love, or who laugh in the face of love. God’s love cannot be undone, cannot be eternally resisted. For God’s love endures forever as nothing outside that love can endure forever. The refrain sung by God’s people at prayer in ancient times and at prayer still in our time, is act of total faith that in the brokenness of human love there is a song to sing:

His steadfast love endures forever.

Twenty-six times the chanter calls on the synagogue of the people to give praise to the Lord, and twenty-six times the roofs are raised with the response of faith:

His steadfast love endures forever.

Psalm 136 is a psalm for slow learners.

 

A word on the Psalms

Some of the Psalms appear to those who pray them today to be the prayers of individuals. Thus the prayer of the dying Jesus as we read in Matthew and Mark:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Psalm 22:1

Many others, such as Psalm 19 would seem to be congregational hymns:

The heavens declare the glory of God. Psalm 19:1

It may be that the congregation did not sing; rather there may have been a choir or a single voice that sang on behalf of the individual or of the people. What are we to make of this appeal in the book of Jeremiah? —

Thus says the Lord of hosts:
“Consider, and call for the mourning women to come;
send for the skilful women to come;
let them make haste and raise a wailing over us,
that our eyes may run down with tears
and our eyelids flow with water.
Jeremiah 9:17-18

We must realise that the individual always prayed within the context of Israel’s faith, just as the individual prayer of a Christian is always a community prayer for it is forever linked to the heavenly prayer of Jesus:

[Jesus] is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them Hebrews 7:25

The opening verse of Psalm 19, quoted above, seems introduce a hymn much as the Glory to God in the highest intones the beginning of a community prayer. But listen to its final verse:

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Christians who pray the Psalms need to realise that the psalms of Israel are, even when whispered to God by an individual in joy or pain, are always prayers of the community of faith.

A reading from the book of the Apocalypse 1:9-13. 17-19

I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”

Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this.
The word of the Lord.

George Bernard Shaw, the great Irish playwright, gave it as his opinion that the Apocalypse to John, the last book in the New Testament, was the outpouring of a drug-crazed madman. While not in agreement with that estimation of this very strange book, it is true that it has given rise to some very bizarre ideas promoted by some very bizarre Christians. It is the favourite text of the lunatic fringes of Christianity.
The book claims to be revelations made to a man named John, God’s servant, to whom God sent an angel “who bore witness to the word of God and to the witnessing of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw” (Revelation 1: 1-2). Consequently, the book has been named Revelation or Apocalypse (a word which refers to the disclosure of otherwise secrets hidden in the heart of God). The Roman emperor Domitian reigned from 81 to 96 A.D. (and he instigated a sporadic persecution of Christians. For the most part Christians resisted the emperor’s instance on promoting his own divinity by having local authorities erect altars in public places dedicated to “Our lord and god” the emperor. The Apocalypse is a response to this blasphemy, as may be the words of Thomas in today’s Gospel.

Revelation (or Apocalypse) is a strange book, after the manner of its parent, the Book of Daniel. The kind of writing found in these two strange works is a type of prophecy. Disasters are soon to be visited upon the whole world for hindering God’s people and repressing God’s word in the world’s people. The way it works is this. You find an obscure figure of the past (Daniel is mentioned in Jeremiah and Ezekiel) and you turn him into a seer. Then you put into his mouth words that are intended to send shivers up and down the spines of the persecuting ungodly powers that be. You call on angels and devils. You think up wild dreams, terrifying scenarios, full of wild beasts and horrific creatures, all of which prefigure the destruction of every evil. Only those who remain faithful to God can unlock the true meaning, that reveals the terrors that will be visited upon their persecutors. It is also helpful if you can find someone to go around shouting The End is Nigh!

Yet the superficial scenarios and images found in Daniel and in the New Testament’s Apocalypse should not lead to their dismissal, as Mr Shaw (who could not see the wood for the trees) so carelessly recommends. In fact, like Daniel, the Book of Revelation is in many ways a collection of Old Testament references. Of the 404 verses that make up our Apocalypse, 278 of them are quotations from the Hebrew Bible, our Old Testament. For all its fire and brimstone, the last book of our Bible is true to God’s word. It announces, in its own peculiar way, the wonders of God’s steadfast love.

Our Bible begins with a creation in the Book of Genesis. It ends with a new creation. The Book of Revelation seeks to remove the veil, to show where the Creator means to lead his creation, to show where the gospel of God and the little churches of our fathers and mothers in faith, and, indeed, all peoples, come to rest:

Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God …
Rev 21:9-10

The city of Jerusalem was, and still is, a place of turmoil, a city of suffering and human desperation. It was and is a city of crucifixion. But crucifixion is not the final word spoken by God to our world of pain. As the seer, Shaw’s drug-crazed madman, looks into the future, he sees that the place of crucifixion becomes a place of utter transformation. There will be a New Jerusalem. When the madman speaks in plain words he speaks to the longings of every heart:

Behold! The dwelling of God is with people. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away. Apocalypse 21:3-4

 

A reading from the holy Gospel according to John 20:19-31

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Best to begin this reading with the words of the last sentence in today’s reading and in John’s Gospel. For that ending is a summary of all the words in John’s Gospel. It is a summary explanation of why the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us. It is a call to believe in the signs and an assurance that in believing believers will have life. Not life unattended, not life without love, not life unaccompanied. Not life going silently to the grave. Life in his name is life in his Presence. To believe is to walk with God and in God. This is what Thomas failed to grasp.

To understand each of the appearances of the Risen Lord in John’s Gospel it is helpful to ask of each incident three questions:
What did Jesus bring?
What did Jesus take away?
What sign points to the meaning?

What did Jesus bring?
The first appearance

The situation is tense with fear. The doors are locked. The disciples are crammed in one room for fear of the Jews. These are those Jews in authority of one kind or another who, throughout the Gospel of John, oppose Jesus every step of the way. The last mention of these hostile entities is a report that their religious sensitivities urged that the legs of three crucified criminal be broken and their bodies taken away lest the Sabbath be violated. It is fear of these religious hypocrites that feeds the fear and tightens the bolts on the doors. Into this huddle of disciples Jesus comes.

What Jesus brings as a first gift is peace: Peace be with you. And again, Peace be with you. When the wounds on his hands and his side identify him as their Lord, they were glad.

Then a second gift of peace comes with a vocation: As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you. The gifts of heaven never come without a heavenly call. The gifted must be ready for service. Those gifted with peace but, in turn, become proclaimers and builders of peace. For what is done in heaven must be done on earth. But that intensity of service is beyond the capabilities of mortal wit or strength. Therefore with the commission comes the gift of empowerment, the grace to enable them to be what they are called now to be:

… he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold (forgiveness) from any, they are withheld.

The forgiveness of sins is placed in the hands of those fearful people in the upper room, the frightened people who are transformed by the Spirit into a little church. Recall that the Holy Spirit in Luke’s version of events descended on those who were assembled together, a company of persons in all about 120 (Acts 1:15):

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Acts 2:1-4

In Matthew’s Gospel the authority to forgive sin is vested in Peter when he identified Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of God”. Jesus responded in words that have echoed down the centuries:

And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar- Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Matthew 16:17-19

However, while addressing the whole company of his disciples two chapters later, Jesus cautions them to take every care to preserve unity among the brothers and sisters in the Christian community. The whole church of disciples is empowered:

Amen I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Matthew 18:18

The gift that Jesus gives to his disciples gathered around him is an authority given to the whole Church to be a proclaimer and a responsible guardian of the steadfast love of God that graces all humanity. It is the grace, the gift of love, to do on earth as it is done in heaven. That means the Church, the whole people of the Church, must exercise stewardship of that love that endures forever.

What did Jesus take away?

What is taken away is fear. But it is not only fear that is dispelled by the coming of the Risen Lord into the midst of the frightened disciples. What we see in Luke’s Acts is a fierce determination to proclaim the message of Jesus against all that hostile authorities and angry crowds can throw at them. What we see in St Stephen is the strength of the Holy Spirit, the very gift that Jesus gave in the upper room when he passed through those locked doors.

What sign points to the meaning?

It is that locked doors that sets the scene. It underlines the presence of fear, of powerlessness, of heartbroken disappointment, and of despair. Hopes that had filled every heart on the way with Jesus to Jerusalem died on the hill of crucifixion. What came through that locked door was an end to fear. With the power of the Holy Spirit every door can be opened and the love of God ushered into a world in most need of love and mercy.

Thomas, the Twin

Thomas the Twin was not behind the locked door on the occasion of the first appearance of the Risen Lord. Where he was we are not told. But we have some insight into his character in the story of the unbinding of Lazarus. Warned that he was in danger of being stoned if he returned to Judea (John 11:8), Jesus did not heed the warning but insisted on going to Bethany, even though he knew Lazarus was already dead. Thomas the Twin said to the rest of the company,

Let’s go, too, that we may die with him.
John 11:16

What do you make of that? Is he impetuous? Foolhardy? Brave? Totally committed to Jesus? Willing to die with him? Think about it.

So here he is again, and when told the astonishing truth “We have seen the Lord” he refuses to believe. Would you blame him? He makes a very reasonable demand for evidence:

Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe. John 20:25

What does that tell you about Thomas the Twin? What we do know is that he is specifically identified as “one of the Twelve” and it is as one of the Twelve that he earns the name Doubting Thomas from that day to this. He was not going to believe that the dead Jesus had been raised from the dead. Eight days after that first appearance, Jesus “came in and stood among them”. Notice that “the doors were locked”.

What did Jesus bring?

As ever, the first gift of the Risen Lord is peace: Peace be with you! Thomas is offered the proof he demanded to overcome his utter disbelief. Utter disbelief is turned into total faith and an expression of faith that has filled the hearts of the faithful from that day to this. Thomas confesses all we know and all we need to know:

My Lord and my God!

What did Jesus take away?

Those locked door suggests that fear still filled the air. Peace is again given where only God’s peace will do. But the doubting Thomas has his doubts removed and replaced by a faith as profound as ever filled a human heart. Jesus offers the proof demanded. But his presence is more enough for the Twin. It is no longer fair to remember him as Doubting Thomas but we can see in his doubts our own wavering faith when the faith of the community of the Church is threatened by evil within and without.

What did Jesus bring?
The second appearance

There is, however, more to be said about what Jesus brings into that room of fear and doubt. There is more to Thomas’ outburst of faith than meets the eye. John’s Gospel was written at the end of the first century or in the early years of the second century. The Roman Empire was ruled by Emperor Domitian from 81 to 96 A.D. He was concerned to secure peace across the whole of his vast domains, stretching from the Tweed to the Tigris and Euphrates. He insisted that all inhabitants should recognise his divinity, over and above local religious affiliations. Public altars and other edifices were erected with the slogan that embodied the new faith:

Dominus et Deus noster.
Our Lord and God.

The Book of Revelation, the Apocalypse was written in direct opposition to the imperial proclamations and that book does not pull its punches when it declares who will win the battle for faith:

… They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.
Apocalypse 17:14

There is then a political assertion in Thomas’s outburst of glorious faith that will have been obvious, not to him, but to the readers and hearers of John’s Gospel. But the confession of faith serves a much more important purpose. Psalm 35:23 is an urgent prayer offered in a time of oppression:

You have seen, O lord; be not silent!
O lord, be not far from me!
Awake and rouse yourself for my vindication,
for my cause, my God and my Lord!
Vindicate me, O lord, my God,
according to your righteousness,
and let them not rejoice over me.
Psalm 35:22-24

This may be the prayer of a king in Israel asking for deliverance from enemies. The psalm comes from a heart riven by doubt that the lord will come to his rescue. If only God would act:

Then my soul will rejoice in the lord,
exulting in his salvation …

… but not before.

It is worth noting, however, that in this psalm there are lines that are very similar to Thomas’ outburst of faith:

Wake, rouse yourself for my cause,
for my claim, O my God and my lord!
Take up my cause,
O lord my God …
Psalm 35:23-24
Indeed, the cry of Thomas is a fitting conclusion to John’s Gospel. Throughout the Gospel we have heard people give voice to many names for Jesus. In John’s pages he is called Messiah, prophet, King, Son of God, Saviour of the world, and he himself has claimed to be Good Shepherd, the Way, Truth, and the Life, even the Light of the world. But it is Thomas who puts all these together and, in keeping with language of faith of the Jewish people, he applies to Jesus all that the ancient faith applied to YHWH, the God of Israel. For in Jesus, the Word made flesh, God has visited his people.

What sign points to the meaning?

The sign is, of course, there for all to see. In the first appearance Jesus points to his broken body,

When he had said this,
he showed them his hands and his side. John 20:20

Again, he points to the wounds of crucifixion to bring Thomas from doubt to faith:

Put your finger here, and see my hands;
and put out your hand, and place it in my side.
John 20:27

Faith in the Risen Lord cannot be confessed, cannot be the creed of the churches, if it is separated from the suffering and from the death. It is the life lived, the life ended, and the life restored that confirm Jesus to be My Lord and My God. Suffered under Pontius Pilate, died, and was buried can never be forgotten and discarded in a rush to the glory of the Risen Lord. For the pattern of his life is the pattern of ours. We live, we die, and we come to the Father.

The final sentence of the glorious Gospel of John is truly magnificent. It calls to mind the seven great signs, from Cana to Bethany, done in the presence of his disciples, signs that are the beacons lighting the witness of Jesus in the world. But, truth to tell, everything in John’s Gospel is a sign, a sign that the love of God has entered our world, not only in the words of the prophets, but in the person of the Son who became flesh and pitched his tent amongst us. Sitting wearily at a well with a broken woman, speaking the words of an attentive Shepherd, gently calling Magdalene by name to end her misery, these and everything else in these pages invite us to faith. They are written that we may know that Jesus is God’s Messiah, the one anointed to tell the story of God’s love and to give God’s pledge that God intends eternal life for one and all:

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John3:17

The assurance that the Son of God offers humanity is that we will have life, life in abundance. In these pages we come to know that all God’s chillun got wings.

Joseph O’Hanlon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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