Kindness, Patience, and Goodness

05-15-2020Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

The Gospel writer John in today's selected passage tells us that Jesus promises the Spirit. This promise is made during the very long talk that John has Jesus give at the Last Supper. The believers of then would have realized that John had assembled a whole series of quotes of Jesus and had made them prominent by placing them all together at the Last Supper. By John doing this, he is telling us to pay strict and close attention to all these words and quotes. He realizes that the various meanings of these words take power after the Death and Resurrection of Jesus. Indeed, John is the only Gospel writer who tells us the very important teachings and sayings which Jesus gave at the Last Supper. We know that the Apostles had heard these words, but that they needed a great deal of time to ponder and come to understand them. Do not forget that John says at the end of his Gospel that he has only written down so much of what Jesus said as there would not be enough books available for him to write into record all that Jesus said.

Note that John does write and record everything which we need. It is by the power of the Holy Spirit that he actually writes about the Holy Spirit. The apostles were fearful and dreaded that they might lose Jesus. John quotes Jesus to them about providing comfort and a promise of help or a helper (the Paraclete). Jesus tells his followers that where the Paraclete is, there I (Jesus) will be also.

Jesus' words are difficult for the apostles to accept because they do not yet understand. In this situation, Jesus invites them to follow him in obedience. They need to listen deeply and to heed all he has commanded. This obedience to Jesus is not slavish or ignorant. It is to be deeply felt and acted on by them.

Our second reading from the Acts of the Apostles tells of the many successes of the Apostles. There are healings and miracles that are occurring throughout Galilee and Samaria. We read of the work of the deacon Philip in Samaria and of Peter and John. We can note a developing sense of a working plan for that time and an order of ministries. Philip the deacon is to baptize; both Peter and John travel from Galilee to Samaria to confer with the Holy Spirit. We learn that God's grace is abundant, marvels abound, and joy reaches a great height. We hear the evidence that the Spirit of God sent by Jesus is everywhere and is everywhere effective.

Peter, despite his many, many limitations, is the one Jesus chose to lead the rest. The Acts of the Apostles clearly depicts him as the leader. Our first reading, which is associated with Peter's name and power, is not written to a specific person or local church as many of the epistles are. Scholars have determined that this letter was composed about 64 A.D. and was sent from Rome to Gentile Christians living in northeast Asia Minor. These believers were a worn down, constantly suffering small community. Peter asks a lot of these Christians because he asks them to manifest inner strength, gentleness of manner and speech. He requests forbearance rather than retaliation, kindness instead of judgement. He asks all these things from them because they can draw strength from Christ whom they are called to imitate.

Certainly in these days of the pandemic and great worry and fear, we, who have been worn down, need to call upon this Holy Spirit which Jesus has sent to us. We should listen to the words of Peter in his letter as he encourages kindness, patience, and goodness as a response to the hard and difficult times. The Holy Spirit is among us and will be seen if we live our daily life as authentic followers of the Way of Jesus Christ.