If we are attentive to Scripture we should be able to recall the Apostles’ reaction to their witnesses to the Resurrection: let’s see….. went back to the Upper Room and hid, .. hmm…. they went fishing in their old haunts of Galilee … what else? … then went back to the Upper Room … then went out to witness the Ascension … and went back to the Upper Room. At first glance it seems as though there is a lot of lollygagging going on. I mean what happened to “ Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you”? Not a whole lot of going, disciple making, baptizing or teaching going on. What’s up with that?
This coming Sunday is Pentecost. The gospel used is the same as we proclaimed on the 2nd Sunday of Easter this year. Rather than re-post them in full, I thought I would simply provide a link to the already-posted segments one day at a time. If you would like to keep reading “click ahead” one blog and you will mostly find the next post in the series. In any case, here is Part 1 of Pentecost: Easter Sunday in the Evening.
With all the news this past week about the horrific conflict in Israel and Gaza, it is natural that part of the conversation at the friary dinner table has been about the conflict, Holy Land pilgrimages we have participated in, what we’ve seen, all adding to the discussions of the terrible tragedy that unfolds. Inevitably the conversation will mention the wall that separates the Holy Land in and around Jerusalem. Jerusalem, The Mount of Olives, Gethsemane, the Holy Sepulcher on one side of the wall. Bethlehem, Bethany, and other places on the other. As one travels around the area outside of metropolitan Jerusalem, you see other walls – those of the Jewish Settlements. There are settlements in hardscrabble places of Israel. But there are more that kinda’ resemble Reston Town Center only with high walls and secure entrances.
In our Pentecost Sunday gospel, as noted in yesterday’s post, to the disciples gathered in the Upper Room on that first Easter evening Jesus first words were: “Peace be with you.” His second words were: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” His thirds words were “Receive the Holy Spirit.” What had been promised in many ways in John 13-17, is now fulfilled in the giving of the Spirit. It also marks a turning point in salvation history as a fulfillment of the prophets, not just that the Messiah would come, but that the Messiah would begin the eschaton, the final era when the Kingdom of God would become manifest – and the future become present.
In our gospel for Pentecost Sunday, Jesus’ first words are “Peace be with you.” His second words are “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” (John 20:21) That should give each one of us pause, for we too by virtue of our Baptism are sent into the world…just as the Father sent Jesus.
The Fourth Gospel speaks often of Jesus being sent into the world by the Father: to do his will (6:38–39; 8:29), to speak his words (3:34; 8:28; 12:49; 14:24; 17:8), to perform his works (4:34; 5:36; 9:4) and win salvation for all who believe (3:16–17).
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).