May 19, 2020
by Larry Gillick, S.J.
Creighton University Delgman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
click here for photo and information about the writer

Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Easter
Lectionary: 292

Acts 16:22-34
Psalms 138:1-2AB, 2CD-3, 7C-8
John 16:5-11

Celebrating Easter Home

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An Easter Blessing

Easter Joy in Everyday Life

Two days from today, in a few dioceses, and next Sunday, the Church will celebrate the Ascension of Jesus into heaven. In the two Readings for today’s liturgy, there is the answering of the ancient question, “Is God with us or not!”  Ancient it is and present as well.

The story from the book of Acts has a picture of God’s being present to Paul and Silas who have been arrested because they were preaching the Gospel. It is an interesting story about why they were arrested, lashed and locked securely in a double-locked cell. God was with them, and continued to be, so that the spread of the early Church might continue.

The Gospel-reading is from the maturing Church fifty years or more after Paul and Silas’ sailing and preaching the New Good News. The Church of John’s time was a “come-and-go” community. People were attracted to believing that Jesus was the Messiah, but then drifted away and back to their former Jewish traditions and beliefs that the Messiah was still to come.

The whole of John’s narrative has to do with the areas of exactly how to get into this “Christ-Believing” community and how to remain a member. We hear today the words of Jesus, according to John, speaking to His disciples about His going away and yet remaining. He knows their questions and worries. He does not explain, but invites belief. He makes a promise about a Companion, an Advocate, who will be present and active. The Holy Spirit will not be a convincing answer, but rather a comforting and alive presence.

Being abandoned or alone is so central to our human experience of fear. From our earliest years we experience subtle, and sometime not so subtle, fears about having a friend, friends, companions, others to assist our singular journey. We all have experienced our awareness that there are actually inside-cells, double-locked, where no one else can know or find us. It is our “mystery” our “longing-place” and it can result in our sense of being abandoned or unloved even by God. Paul and Silas, as well as the early Church and followers of Jesus ever since, have trusted, not in easy answers, but in the Promise, the “Present-One” which is sometimes like a quake of our earthliness or a quiet voice.

Maybe some of you have done something “wrong” which you thought might cause your being excluded. I was once fishing with my father and casting an artificial bait, one of my dad’s favorites. He had taught me well about casting, when to let the line loose, at what angle at which to let it fly. Don’t ya know, one very good launching and the yellow and red plug flew off my line like a flying fish. I expected to have to walk home across the lake’s water or underneath it. I had done something “wrong” and was going to receive the punishment of being disowned as fisher-pal or maybe even as son.

My dad, watching the arch of his favorite lure said, “I didn’t tie it to your line very well. Here’s another and you tie it on.”

John has Jesus quite aware that the “world” is doing something very wrong, not by killing Him, but by not believing that He is the One Who is Sent. Yes, they are going to abandon Him to His death, but His Father is not tossing them out of the boat, but is confirming, companioning and missioning them all to continue fishing for the human response to their being loved and included.   

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