Life by the Gift of the Spirit
Tuesday, May 16, 2023, Sixth Week of Easter
by Fr. David M. Knight
View readings for today:
The Responsorial (Psalm 138) capsulizes the Good News: “Your right hand has saved me, O Lord.”
Acts 16: 22-34 reveals again the pattern of evangelization. First there is pre-evangelization: an event that shocks, that raises a question. Here it is not so much the earthquake itself as the fact that the prisoners did not leave. The jailer, impressed by all this, asks the question: “What must I do to be saved?” That opens the door for the second step: evangelization, or announcing the Good New in response to a desire to hear it. Paul and Silas said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and all your household.” The guard brought them to his family and the disciples “proceeded to announce the word of God to him and to everyone in his house.” In response “he and his whole family were baptized.” Then, in a preview of eucharist, step three, the guard “spread a table before them and joyfully celebrated with his whole family his newfound faith in God.”
In the Mass, the Introductory Rites are evangelization, but also pre-evangelization. The joy the community expresses in the entrance hymn; the Greeting that presents the shocking concepts: “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, love of God, communion in the Holy Spirit…”; the total acceptance of all by all taken for granted in the Penitential Rite with the “Lord, have mercy”; the phrases of the Gloria — all these should raise questions in believers and visitors alike. The Liturgy of the Word begins to answer them.
Then all are invited to respond by “coming forward,” represented by the bread and wine in the Presentation of Gifts, to express their belief and their continuing but renewed acceptance of Baptism: placing themselves on the altar to be offered with and in Jesus during the Eucharistic Prayer. The Rite of Communion follows in anticipation of the “wedding banquet of the Lamb.” It is all the Good News celebrated: “Your right hand has saved me, O Lord.”
In John 16: 5-11 Jesus says it is better he should leave this earth and return to live in and through us than to stay here in the body he got from Mary. He gives three reasons:
1. The lives of prophetic witness that the Spirit empowers us to live, plus the manifest “fruit of the Spirit” in us (see Galatians 5:22), give proof worldwide that Jesus gives what he promised. It shows that refusal to believe in him is “sin,” a rejection of obvious good.
2. Jesus was unjustly condemned: we “see him no more.” But when we act in ways inexplicable without his Spirit, it proves God’s justice triumphed. Jesus visibly alive and acting everywhere in us reveals that death simply returned him to the Father. He is in glory. The “gift of the Spirit” in us is proof of it.
3. The Spirit empowering us to live by Christ’s values over those of the culture is proof of judgment against “the prince of this world.” God doesn’t sit back and let evil triumph. Jesus has “overcome the world” (John 16:33; 1John 4:4). We proclaim it: “Your right hand has saved me, O Lord.”
Initiative: Be Christ: Live by the Spirit to reveal him in the flesh.
Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry