The readings during the Easter season are vibrant. Especially
the readings from the Acts of the Apostles always strike me with their almost
breathless quality. There is so much going on and it is all happening
so quickly. Someone said that the “Acts of the Apostles” should actually
be called, “the Acts of the Holy Spirit” because they are so Spirit-driven
and Spirit-related. Now, after the death and resurrection of Christ,
is the time of the Holy Spirit, the time of the church and the church’s vivid
and active life.
The first reading in today’s liturgy is a good example of that vibrancy.
The scene is after the death of the first martyr, Stephen. People are
“scattered” by the persecution of the church that follows Stephen having
been killed for his faith and for preaching about Jesus. “They went
as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch,” preaching the word to no one but
the Jews. And the “hand” of the Lord was with them and a great number
turned to the Lord.
We think readily about the tremendous growth of the newly formed community
of women and men who were turned on by faith in the person of Jesus the Christ.
This is the work of the Holy Spirit guiding and leading people to faith in
Jesus and, through Him, on a pathway to the Father. Once again, Acts
attests to this work of the Holy Spirit and the growth of the church, “a
large number of people was added to the Lord.”
Indeed, not just this early and significant growth in persons of faith in
Jesus, but the entire corporate reality that we call the church from those
beginning times to our own, all is the work of the Holy Spirit. Most
of us are befuddled by the workings of the Holy Spirit and do not know exactly
how to respond to it.
Interpreters of St. Luke’s gospel (and subsequent writing of the Acts of
the Apostles) tell us that in Luke’s perspective there are three “times”
relative to the divine trinity. The time of God the Father is recorded
in the Hebrew Bible (what Christians call the Old Testament), the time of
God the Son is recorded in the New Testament, and, finally, the time of God
the Holy Spirit is recorded in the lives of women and men alive with their
faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Thus, from the time of the Acts of the Apostles to today we Christian persons
are under the guidance of the “befriending” Spirit as the Second Vatican
calls the Holy Spirit. All the activity we see in the Acts of the Apostles
and all the activity of people of faith throughout the ages of the church
are, in reality, the work of the Holy Spirit.
Lord, our God, send us your Spirit of life. Help us to be
aware of the wonders that are accomplished by Your Holy Spirit working in
the minds, hearts, and bodies of people of faith. Help us to be grateful
that we are inspired by and informed by your Spirit as we live our lives
in fidelity to faith in your Son Jesus who continues to live in and through
us as the Risen Christ.