13 May. Monday in the Seventh Week of Easter
Acts 19:1ff. In Ephesus, some followers of John the Baptist become full members of the church.
John 16:29ff. Close to the hour of his Passion, Jesus says, “Take courage; I have conquered the world!”
First Reading: Acts 19:1-8
While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul passed through the interior regions and came to Ephesus, where he found some disciples. He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” They replied, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” Then he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They answered, “Into John’s baptism.” Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied – altogether there were about twelve of them.
Then he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke out boldly, and argued persuasively about the kingdom of God.
Gospel: John 16:29-33
His disciples said, “Yes, now you are speaking plainly, not in any figure of speech! Now we know that you know all things, and you do not need to have anyone question you; by this we believe that you came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”
The Power of Plain Speaking
What Jesus says in John’s gospel today is both plain and challenging. How can the disciples find peace in Jesus if they are to be scattered, while Jesus is left alone to endure his Passion? How could the disintegration of of their loyalty to him eventually result in their faith being restored? It is because, in coming to grasp the truth of his resurrection, they will know Jesus has come from God, and that, by the power of God he has conquered the world.
Among his followers in the next generation probably none spoke so much and so forcefully about him as Paul the Apostle. Keenly attuned to the life and culture of his hearers, he was eager to speak the gospel in a way they could understand and accept. With the Greeks he used Greek forms of expression, and Jewish forms with the Jews. “I became all things to all, so that by all means I might win some” (1 Cor 9:22). We hear today how he came as a missionary to the bustling city of Ephesus and there “spoke out boldly, and argued persuasively about the kingdom of God”. That combination of qualities, “boldly and persuasively” – blending conviction of faith with a keen awareness of the culture of one’s audience – is surely needed today. In the selection of candidates for ministry in our Church, and most clearly in the choice of our bishops, the ability to speak “boldly and persuasively” should be prized above all other considerations, if the noble ideal of New Evangelisation is to succeed in sharing Christ’s message with our populace today.