May 22, 2022
by Molly Mattingly
Creighton University's Campus Ministry
click here for photo and information about the writer

Sixth Sunday of Easter
Lectionary: 57

Acts 15:1-2, 22-29
Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8
Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23
John 14:23-29

Celebrating Easter

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled

Prayer to the Holy Spirit

We’ve been on this Easter walk awhile now. We may even have forgotten it’s still Easter! As we near the end of the season, we approach another transition for Christ: not from death to life, but from earthly presence in his Resurrected Body to presence in his Body, the Church, led by the Spirit. This Sunday, we hear of the struggles of the early Church and the call for all nations to praise God. We hear  the accounts of a glorious vision of the new Jerusalem and Jesus’ words to his disciples as he prepares them for his absence, or new presence, in the Gospel of John. These readings ask the questions: where does God dwell? And, what is essential to get there?

The first disciples knew from Jewish tradition that God dwelt in the arc of the covenant, and then in the temple. God was present in the midst of the people in these ways: not just up on a mountain, but on the journey through the desert, and in the holy city. In the second reading, John reframes the tradition in light of Christ: the city no longer needs a temple, because Christ the Lamb is present in the whole city. His description of the new Jerusalem shows the transparent walls letting the light shine out and the gates welcoming all the people of Israel from every direction. However, in the first reading from Acts, the early Church is learning how to welcome Gentiles, those outside the tribes of Israel. Rather than a city defended by walls (even transparent ones), the community that follows Christ becomes the place where God dwells. Jesus makes it even more personal in the Gospel: God makes a dwelling with the ones who love him.

As he prepares his disciples to recognize his presence in a new way, Jesus outlines what it means to love him. I read his words less like a rulebook and more like a statement of the obvious: this is how it looks to love Christ and that is not. Those who love Christ want to be close to him, to dwell with him. Because they want to be close to him, they follow him, listen to him, and remember what he taught them. In that desire for closeness, the Holy Spirit continues to teach them and work in their memory. The Holy Spirit was working in the early Church as they discerned how to welcome in those who wanted to follow Christ from outside of Jewish tradition and attempted to define the expanded community’s embodied practice of walking close with God. John, or the community he taught, wrote from the perspective of having witnessed the presence of Christ and the Holy Spirit after Pentecost. The Spirit had been praying and reflecting in them for 60-90 years after the Resurrection, revealing more in the teachings they had heard and the practices they engaged. They had witnessed God dwelling ever-closer with them. How has the Holy Spirit been praying in us and teaching us? What is essential for me to follow Christ? How do I live out my love for Christ and dwell with God?

Twelve Gates to the City

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