May 4, 2008 Year A
Seventh Sunday of Easter
Reflections on the Readings
By Dennis Hankins
Theme: And This Is Eternal Life
"Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ."
We are always receiving from the fullness of the Son of the Father's love.
Today's Gospel is a partial reading of the High Priestly prayer of Jesus. Although this is pre-Calvary, it does reflect Jesus' anticipation of his Ascension (which was May1st) and glorification. He speaks of this pre-incarnate glory as that which he possessed "before the world was made." (John 11:5) Having drawn his disciples into the life of his union with the Father, Jesus exults in prayer concerning the eternal life He has revealed to the "men you gave me out of the world."
The disciples were called out of a culture filled with the religion of their fathers. Faith in their time was not filled with conviction. In fact Jesus spoke of the faith of Israel as being only lip service, the hearts of the worshippers being far from the Lord. (Matthew 15:8) It is in this world of empty piety Jesus manifests the name of his Father. To this world of lukewarm devotion Jesus speaks of eternal life, a life filled with knowledge of the living God. A knowledge that captivated the heart and expressed itself in love of God and of neighbor. It is this fullness of life that the Father revealed to the world when he gave his only begotten Son, so that whoever believed in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
We are presently within the Novena of Pentecost. After his passion, Jesus presented himself alive by many proofs. He did this over the course of 40 days, speaking to his disciples of the kingdom of God. Now about to ascend to his Father and ours, he charges them not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for the promise of the Father, which he said, "you have heard from me." As John had baptized with water, Jesus promised a baptism with the Holy Spirit. The intimate connection of believer and Savior would be consummated by an immersion into the Holy Spirit. It is this active ministry of the Holy Spirit in us and through us that makes devotion to the Lord compelling rather than perfunctory.
Like a well-watered garden, that will have healthy and fruitful plants, we need the Holy Spirit, the dew of Heaven. Every gardener knows that unless his efforts are crowned with the showers of heaven his crop will suffer. Jesus the master gardener, having plowed, weeded and cultivated the men he called apostles, they would not fulfill the meaning and destiny of the life he gave them unless they were immersed in the Holy Spirit.
It is within this Novena of Pentecost we find ourselves praying with the nascent Church, "Come Holy Spirit." Today, as I prayed at breakfast with my family, I prayed, "Dear Father, bless this day and bless us in it. Fill us Holy Spirit. Through Christ our Lord, Amen." Our little girl Heidi looked at me quizzically and said in her innocence "Phyllis Holy Spirit?" I said yes, "Fill us Holy Spirit." "OH, Heidi said. "I thought you said Phyllis!"
Jesus calls all of us, not only Phyllis, but also Dennis, Debbie, Heidi and you, to pray for the promise of the Father.
Let us pray: Dear Jesus may the life you have given me spring up into everlasting life. Fill me with the fruit of your Ascension, even the Holy Spirit that comes down from heaven. Amen.