Monday in the Fifth Week of Easter
Acts 14:5ff. At Lystra a man crippled from birth was healed; and Barnabas and Paul give the glory to God
John 14:21ff. Jesus will send the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to help them stay true to his message
Guided by the Spirit
As we energetically begin a day or a new project, do we really want to be instructed by the Holy Spirit in everything? Then, we would be such instruments of the Spirit, that people would sense the power of miracles within us, as once they did within Paul. And as we look at others, even if they are crippled in body or in mind, we too like Paul would see a faith strong enough to heal them of their infirmity. Today’s Scriptures instruct us on ways to arrive at this change and expression of the Holy Spirit.
First, we must be obedient to the Holy Spirit. The least desire of God must become a commandment of love. To disobey is to be destroyed. Commandments then are not a set of difficult rules but an assurance that we are following God’s holy will, moment by moment. This same Holy Spirit will also remind us of everything that Jesus has spoken, and in doing so, the Spirit will revive hidden resolutions for prayer or forgiveness, for patience or helpfulness. All these earlier graces from Jesus, which at one time meant so much to us, will stir with fresh life. Somehow or other, we are brought back to the first moment of youth when life lay before us and we bounded with all sorts of wonderful ideas. The Holy Spirit, then, touches us where we are at our best, God’s masterpiece, a creation of love, meant to be an instrument of love toward others, and so to reveal the wonderful presence of God.
Jesus’ word, which the Holy Spirit enables us to hear as though spoken for the first time, brings us into the cycle of God’s magnificent life. This word comes from the Father and therefore as Jesus confessed, “is not mine.” It sends Jesus forth on his ministry of world salvation, drawing him into desert nights of prayer, inspiring him to teach and to heal. It reaches us today in the Scriptures and through the Scriptures articulates the words of the Spirit within our spirit. It animates our hidden hopes and good ambitions. Thus the word sustains a cycle of divine life, from heaven to earth and back again to heaven. That word then has left its traces in our created universe and in our memories and subconscious. St. Paul expressed it this way in today’s reading: “We are bringing you the good news that will convert you … to the living God, “the one who made heaven and earth and the sea and all that is in them.” … In bestowing his benefits, he has not hidden himself without a clue. From the heavens he sends down rain and rich harvests; your spirits he fills with food and delight.
The second condition or suggestion from today’s Scripture reading, enabling us to be instruments of the
Spirit within our community and family, rests upon the strong faith that God’s word is written everywhere. The Word (with capital W) within the Scriptures makes the other words intelligent and forceful.
A third condition is imbedded within the second. If the word is everywhere, then it belongs to everyone. It can never be heard and then captured as an individual’s private property. By its nature it must be shared or it dies. Just as the Father’s word, according to Jesus, “is not mine. It comes from the Father who sent me … [to] instruct you in everything,” likewise the word which we perceive in our hearts and in our world must continuously flow through us to inspire new life in others.
Fourthly, this life-giving, life-restoring word must be received, not only obediently (as we mentioned earlier) but also unconditionally. We must not put boundaries or conditions upon it, otherwise (again) it dies! To put this aspect of the word as clearly as possible, we must be convinced that we can be God’s instrument, through the word, in working miracles. As we speak the Word (with a capital W) that absorbs and transforms all of our words (with a small w), that is, as God’s inspired Word infuses new life into all our thoughts and expressions, others must respond like the crippled man at Lystra. They look on us and see in us “the faith to be saved.” How can such a moment happen? Jesus answers: “The Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will instruct you in everything.
First Reading: Acts 14:5-18
And when an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them, the apostles learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country; and there they continued proclaiming the good news.
In Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet and had never walked, for he had been crippled from birth. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. And Paul, looking at him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And the man sprang up and began to walk. When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates; he and the crowds wanted to offer sacrifice.
When the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting, “Friends, why are you doing this? We are mortals just like you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. In past generations he allowed all the nations to follow their own ways; yet he has not left himself without a witness in doing good – giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, and filling you with food and your hearts with joy.” Even with these words, they scarcely restrained the crowds from offering sacrifice to them.
Gospel: John 14:21-26
They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me. I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.”