Psalm 138:1-2, 2-3, 7-8
The Merry Month of May is a time of celebrating -- graduations and weddings, anniversaries and retirements, ball games, picnics, croquet parties. Flowering trees and warm skies invite rejoicing, as does today's Psalm. God hears us, answers us, saves us -- forever. And the first reading from Acts ends with celebrating, even a dinner party, to rejoice "at having come to faith in God."
So what about this selection from the Gospel of John that has grief and sorrow (Jesus is leaving) and even fear: the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, God "will convict the world." Isn't this too nice a month to be reminded about evil and sin and failure? Do we really have to read this?
Jesus, you mean this as a promise: your Spirit will be with us throughout our life in a wrong-full world. Another translation has the idea in "will convict the world in regard to" as "will prove the world wrong about...." It's easy to see, if we can stop celebrating for a minute here, that the world is very wrong indeed, in places like the Middle East and Afghanistan, in problems like AIDS and slavery, in particular sins like fraud and racism -- and in my personal sins.... Unfortunately, yes.
The passage continues: Jesus promises that God the Spirit will convict, prove wrong, this world in sin, righteousness (justice) nd condemnation (judgment) -- "because the ruler of this world has been condemned." I'm interpreting "the ruler of this world" as Evil, the Evil Spirit, Satan-- a way of accounting for the great Force of evil in our world, however lovely this world is, at any time and especially in May.
Like Paul and Silas, the Church experiences hostility and attacks and pain and punishment, but like Paul and Silas, we are Saved. We can have our parties and celebrate our lovely world, for Evil has been condemned and the world has been Saved by Jesus. Yes, most fortunately, we are Saved by our faith in the Lord Jesus. Let's celebrate!
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