Seventh Sunday of Easter – 29 May 2022
Lectionary Readings: Acts 7:55-60; Psalm 97:1-2. 6-7. 9; Rev 22:12-14. 16-17. 20; John 17:20-26
Theme: “That they may be one” (Jn 20:22)
In anticipation of the celebration of Pentecost next Sunday, the readings this week invite us to reflect on the Holy Spirit as the principle of “oneness” that draws humankind into relationship with God through Jesus Christ and with each other. In the gospel narrative, Jesus’ fervent prayer is for his disciples, and other believers, to share in the oneness of love that unites him with the Father. In the eyes of Jesus, all those who believe in him are God’s “gifts” to him. Therefore, they merit a share in that which is of the greatest value, namely the glory that comes from being loved by God and dwelling in the light of that love. It is the Holy Spirit who enables this divine love between God and Jesus to become a “living reality” in the disciples (Martin and Wright, 288). In turn, they witness to “divine communion” through the “bonds of faith and love” that exist within their historical community of the church (Martin and Wright, 288).
The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles attests that it is the Holy Spirit who first permitted Stephen to behold Jesus at the right hand of God and then enabled him to imitate Jesus to the very end in his own martyrdom. The parallels between Stephen’s death and the passion of Jesus demonstrate that “the ultimate work of the Holy Spirit is to reproduce in Christians the life of Jesus” (Kurz, 135-36). As we look towards the celebration of Pentecost, today’s first reading and the gospel passage summon us to remember that the credibility of the church’s sacramental witness is linked to the degree to which, empowered by the Holy Spirit, Christians aim “to reproduce the life of Jesus” in their own lives. At the heart of this sacramental witness lies “communion with God and unity of the entire human race” (Lumen Gentium §1).
In addition to ongoing efforts in the area of ecumenical dialogue, the readings challenge us to explore deeply the meaning of “oneness” in our relations with God and with each other. Here, we can learn much from the wisdom of the Jewish tradition which teaches that God’s dream for creation is “a world of wholeness, a world that is one” (Feinstein, 7). This is manifested in the ease with which creation came forth from the Creator; the generosity with which God created humankind in God’s own image; and the human togetherness established originally in the Garden (Feinstein, 7-9). It is present in the language of shalom which is related to shelemut, meaning “wholeness” (Green, 170). Its opposite is mahloket which refers to divisiveness or quarrelling (Green, 170). For our Jewish brothers and sisters, the weekly observance of Shabbat provides the gift of time each week to cease the battles and struggles associated with daily life (Green, 255). It is a time to live in harmony, and thus “become one – one with one another, one with all other living things, and one with God” (Feinstein, 36).
For Reflection and Discussion: 1. How does Jesus’ prayer “that they may be one” resonate with you? 2. As Pentecost approaches, what is your greatest longing?
Bibliography: Kurz, William S. Acts of the Apostles (Grand Rapids: 2014); Feinstein, Rabbi Edward. The Chutzpah Imperative: Empowering Today’s Jews for a Life That Matters (Nashville: 2014); Green, Arthur. These are the Words: A Vocabulary of Jewish Spiritual Life (Woodstock: 1999); Martin, Francis and William Wright. The Gospel of John (Grand Rapids: 2015).
This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
Sr. Carla Thomas, OP, Trinidad and Tobago/Toronto, Bat Kol Alumna 2018