May 28, 2017
by Andy Alexander, S.J.
Creighton University's Collaborative Ministry
click here for photo and information about the writer

Seventh Sunday of Easter
Lectionary: 59

Acts 1:12-14
Psalms 27:1, 4, 7-8
1 Peter 4:13-16

Daily Easter Prayer

For those celebrating the
Ascension of our Lord today

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Several things are going on in the readings for this next to the last Sunday of the Easter Season. (Next Sunday we celebrate Pentecost and then return to Ordinary Time for the next six months.) Each of these moments in the readings can be very fruitful for us.

In the Acts of the Apostles, Luke tells us about what the apostles and the closest women followers of Jesus did right after the Ascension. They went right back to that upper room where they'd had their last meal with Jesus and where he appeared to them twice - on the day of his Resurrection and the following Sunday. The point of this episode it to preserve for us the memory that "All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer." We might wonder what was going on in them as they awaited the coming of the Holy Spirit. Were they unsure of the meaning of all that had happened these past forty days? I can imagine that we are in a place, similar to theirs, each of us in our own way. Perhaps we aren't so sure of all that has happened in our Lent and Easter journey. We may not have been fully engaged in it. Other things might have been holding our attention. We might have encountered anxiety and fear, conflicts and division. So, it seems wonderful to reflect that, on this Sunday, a week before Pentecost, we can gather and devote ourselves "with one accord" to prayer.

What we have in common as a faith community is remarkably similar. Yes, we have differences - many of them. We are socially privileged and socially disadvantaged. We are spread across a whole spectrum of ideas and ideologies. Some of us are nice and some of us are not so nice. We have habits, patterns, addictions that vary, but which are quite similar in some ways. It seems appropriate for us to arrive at the sense that we need to come together, with one another, with one accord - with one desire - to be in prayer together.

Of course, we can all be praying - in the sense of asking - "Come, Holy Spirit." That's what we need the most - for our healing, or our coming together, for the powerful gifts we need to become reconcilers, rather than dividers. In this sense, we can ask for help to let the Spirit come to each of us, and all of us, and re-new us - to set our hearts on fire. We can grow in desire - I think that is the "devoting" ourselves part - to experience the peace that only the Spirit of Jesus can give us. Every one of our hearts, each of our families, communities, and countries needs that peace, now more than ever. And, coming together in that kind of prayer, we might be able to join together and "renew the face of the earth."

In the Gospel, Jesus is at the last supper the apostles and the women followers had in that upper room. We are listening to Jesus pray to his Father and our Father. He's praying for us. In the verses just past today's selection (verse 21), he will pray to the Father that we might all be one. Jesus knows that his enemy, and those seduced by the enemy, will work hard that we will always be divided. Selfishness, greed, lust, lust for power, competition, thoughtlessness of the needs of others, judgments, intollerance - there are plenty of reasons for Jesus to beg his Father that we might be healed of all of those movements and that we be protected from being infected with those spirits, which we know are all around us. Jesus prays for us - his own - knowing that we remain in the world.

This is a great Sunday to pray to the Father for ourselves. The Father knows we are in the world. Jesus is with each of us every single moment of every day. We are never alone. We have received the gift of the Spirit of Jesus many times in our lives, but this week we can pray that the gift might be re-kindled, re-ignited, re-refreshed and re-newed. As we pray to the Father, we can hold up the things, the attitudes, the un-freedoms, the defenses which keep us from being people of unity, people who build communion, people of mercy, people of love, with the heart of Jesus and the fire of the Holy Spirit. There is so much we can ask the Father for this week.

We can prepare our hearts for the celebration of Pentecost next week by the way we pray this week. When we devote ourselves to the kind of prayer that opens our hearts to the very gifts God wants to give us, grace happens. Perhaps we'll receive the gift of un-tangled speech - the gift to share the graces we are receiving, so that others will hear it and rejoice with us.

Come, Holy Spirit.

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