Daily Reflection
May 11th, 2005

Tom Shanahan, S.J.

University Relations and Theology Department
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Acts 20:28-38
Psalm 68:29-30, 33-35a, 35bc-36ab
John 17:11b-19

As we near the end of the Easter season our liturgies have presented to us Jesus’ words of farewell to his disciples recorded in John’s gospel. Jesus’ words are meant to strengthen the disciples in their faith, a faith that soon would be tested severely in the events of the Jesus’ passion and death. And so in today’s liturgy, Jesus prays “as you (Father) sent me into the world, so I send them into the world.”

These are ominous words Jesus speaks to the disciples. Because we know that the disciples will share the fate that Jesus himself undergoes in the passion as he continues his journey as God’s Servant. We know the rest of the story: that Jesus dies on the cross and is raised by the Father’s love and power. The disciples themselves, when they were gathered together after the scandal of the cross, followed in Jesus’ footsteps. Indeed some of them witnessed to their faith with their very lives and others witnessed by their laboring with Christ in spreading the faith to the entire known world. We have been reading of those labors the past few weeks in the season of Easter in the Acts of the Apostles.

And now we are invited to celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Acts of the Apostles might better be called the Acts of the Holy Spirit because the disciples were acting under the inspiration of the Spirit as they spread the good news of faith in Jesus the Christ. Thus, for the disciples, and for us we are invited into the very work of Jesus. The fulfillment of Jesus’ promise that we will not be left alone (“I will not leave you orphans”) is experienced in the presence of the Spirit of God in, for and through us.

As we prepare to acknowledge and to celebrate at Pentecost the great mystery of the Spirit’s active presence in our lives and in our world, we are struck by God’s continuing care for us. Indeed, we are not orphans, but are beloved daughters and sons of a good and loving God who first sent his Son to live and die for us, and now continues his presence in our world through his Spirit.

We pray humbly, then, that we can be open to the Holy Spirit in our lives both individually and collectively as the Body of Christ. Thank you, Lord God, for being present to us in your Son and through your Spirit of life and love. Be with us as we grow as people of faith, hope and love.

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