Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year A, 14 May, 2023: Acts 8:5-8, 14-17; 1 Peter 3:15-18; John 14:15-21
Our Mass Readings shift the focus from the event of Jesus’ Resurrection to his progress through the Ascension to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
What this indicates is that we are wrapped up in the same trajectory. We do not celebrate what happens to him, as to a vicarious hero; rather he reveals what happens to us through his coming in our flesh and our incorporation into his Body.
Jesus tells us that we will know the Spirit because the Spirit remains in us and will be in us. I just don’t know about the Spirit, but I can know the Spirit.
How? That’s the demanding part, the part for which many religious people find substitutes: I have to know myself and I have to recognize what is not myself. To know myself, I am confronted by my limits, my wounds, my sins; I recognize that my gifts are not personal attributes or possessions but truly gifts given from beyond myself—and they may not be permanent, but given only for a particular time or task. Ultimately I recognize my poverty and the richness of that poverty, opening me to God’s work through me. Then I am able to know the Spirit of God who remains in me.
Instead of that, many prefer to perform pious or helpful deeds—things that are good in themselves but ultimately futile when they distract us from the unsavory experience of owning our incapacities.
Unlike mastering information—this is not knowing about the Spirit, but knowing the Spirit—I don’t “get it” once and for all. Throughout my lifetime, don’t I go through this again and again? Don’t I discover other limits, more poverty, more to let go of—and more to receive?