“Sensory Deprivation Disorder” comes from a feeling that all the clouds up there which are blocking the sun are settling in the soul. The darkness of sunless days can get to us and so things Alleluia-less.
Easter, is an event and also a way of looking, waiting, watching, and hoping for the Son to rise in our lives.
As we move toward the weekend’s gathering of the Eucharistic community, we can pray for the rain of Grace to bring about the reign of God in our every day ways. In our part of the world, the “April showers, bring May flowers”. Things do bloom after clouds and rain, but we are invited to pray so as to be available for the risings of the plants and trees, as well as the rising of the Son in our growings.
We continue hearing of the growth of the early Christian community from the Acts of the Apostles, in our First Reading. These verses follow immediately after the stoning of Steven, the “First Martyr”, and the terroristic actions of Saul, who would be later known as Paul. Our Reading begins with the account of the escapees including Phillip who found fertile soil for the planting of the Word even in the foreign land of Samaria. Many miracles and healings from unclean spirits had been taking place.
Then occurs an important event. Phillip baptized the believers in the Word of Christ, but Peter and John came to the new community, because these newly baptized had not yet received the “Holy Spirit”. So there was a ritual laying on of hands and the Holy Spirit came upon the newly converted. There is no indication of just what the difference was in the lives of these Samaritans before and after the coming of the Spirit. It must be important though, for Peter and John to come to witness their acceptance of the Name of Jesus and thereby confirm the presence of Christ within them
In the ritual of Baptism in the Catholic Church there are several mentions of the person’s being baptized with “water and the Holy Spirit”. The Spirit is the incarnating relationship of God. The Spirit brings creation out of chaos and or the unformed. The presence of the Holy Spirit allows the cleansing of the water to produce visibility or revelation in the lives of those who are baptized. Peter and John, by their laying on of hands, must have determined that there truly was such fertility of soul in the Samaritans that there would be definite fruitful revelations of the presence and labors of God within their lives.
What we do not hear today is an interesting few verses about a kind of “trickster” named Simon, who upon seeing the change in the lives of the baptized wanted to pay Peter and John a sum of money so that he could add that to his magical performances. You might want to read just what Peter has to say to this scam artist, not quite what we would call “Christian” language.
The Gospel begins the steady movement toward Pentecost by directly stating the promise of the Spirit’s being sent to them. It does take some careful reading of or listening to so as to understand all the ins and outs. The key statement is about the “world” and how it does not accept the truth. In John’s Gospel, the “World” has a double meaning. In the third chapter we read about how God so loved the “world” that God sent the son into it. Here and in next-Sunday’s Gospel, the word is both “earth” and “darkness”. The dominant theme of John’s Gospel is “light” which is also “truth”. Those who refuse to accept the “light” or “truth” or “Jesus” are prevented from experiencing life as God intended them to live. Those of the World” or of darkness can neither see nor hear and so live the love of God.
This “Spirit” or “Advocate” will not leave the believers alone to their own devices for seeing and living the Truth of God and their truth of being Children of God. Jesus invites His listeners to love Him by keeping His commandments involving the loving of others. Through this promised “Spirit” His followers will know who they are, that is part of God’s truth in Christ, and they will know who others are as well.
The “Spirit” is promised so that all who believe will know who they are, because Christ is in them and that is the blessing of Baptism. Darkness prevents us from seeing the goodly Godliness in us. It is a kind of spiritual deprivation to live in a disturbing sense of who we are. The “Spirit” is sent to not allow us to know ourselves as “orphans”. We know from whence we have come, what we are here for and to where we are going.
Lately I was told by my youngest brother that when he was very young, my second youngest brother told him that he, the youngest, came from the Royal Bakery across the street from our house and that is why he loved eating bread and desserts so much. He was shown the very tray from which our mother picked him out and took him to our house. He was warmed in our stove and eventually came out eating. It seemed logical enough to the youngest of our clan. He says smilingly, that he is “permanently scarred” for life and that is why he eats so much to affirm his orphanic identity.
All good things around us and within us come from heaven above, so thank You Lord. Sad are those who do not know and accept their truth and spend their lives in the darkness of desperate searching. The “Spirit” is sent to remain with us so that we might do the same and remain In Christ and remain ourselves gratefully.
“Speak out with a voice of joy; let it be heard to the ends of the earth. The Lord has set His people free, alleluia.” Is. 48, 20
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