This past week, the Commonwealth of Virginia announced that it would immediately implement the just announced CDC guidelines which stated that fully vaccinated individuals do not have to wear masks in outdoor or most indoor settings, except on public transit, in health care facilities, and in congregate settings. Throughout the pandemic at national, state and local levels that last phrase “congregate settings” have included churches, synagogues, mosques, and other places of worship. Following on the heels of the Commonwealth’s announcement, our local diocese announced that because of some ambiguity in the announcement, that we were to not inhibit or challenge people who wanted to not wear masks during the celebration of Mass. While we did not agree that there was ambiguity, we complied. As folks and families approached the doors of the church they were not asked if they were vaccinated, but were simply informed that “fully vaccinated people were not required to wear masks but were also free to wear them if they desired.”
Who were these 12 people that Paul encounters in today’s first reading? They were generically referred to as “disciples” in Acts 19:1. Many people assume, based on the following verses, that they were not followers of Jesus, but rather a remnant of the followers of John the Baptist. Not so. Luke is always quite specific in unmistakably identifying John the Baptist’s disciples. These folks are disciples of Jesus, but with a not-yet-complete understanding of the faith.
With our celebration of the Ascension complete, as a Church we look forward to the celebration of Pentecost, that great event in which the promise of Jesus begins its fulfillment in the coming of the Advocate, the Counselor, the Spirit of Truth who will lead the disciples in all things (John 16).