Jesus responds with wisdom and insight when questioned about his authority. As his disciples we call upon the Lord for the grace, power and authority we need to live our lives with the Holy Spirit in our hearts.
The Holy Spirit transforms the Lord’s disciples, empowering them in the face of adversity and uniting them in love. The same Spirit continues to work in our lives today, inviting us to call out for the help and guidance we need as we journey through this life.
Study: Reflect on a time when you encountered a difficult experience. Where did you find your strength?
Pray: Ask for the Holy Spirit to help you, especially to unite with others in challenging situations.
Serve: How can you help foster unity in your life? What can you do to bring people together?
It can be somewhat confusing to know what readings to follow – depending on the day and the options available a person can hear a number of different Scripture readings this weekend. Stepping back for a moment, however, we can tease out some major themes that surface on this important feast of the Church:
In many respects this feast marks the birthday of the Church. The disciples, having watched the Lord ascend to Heaven, are now “on their own” to carry out the Good News of Christ. The point, of course, is that they are not alone! Filled with the Holy Spirit their hearts are transformed and their lives forever changed. They have become willing instruments empowered by the Spirit to speak and act for the glory of God. They don’t look anything like their former selves – timid, fearful, and self-serving; they now fearlessly engage the world with the conviction that Jesus is Lord.
And as they are strengthened by the Spirit one sign increasingly becomes apparent – the unity of believers as a self evident sign that God’s grace is at work. Several approaches underscore this sense of unity:
Language, cooperation, fruitfulness, and forgiveness are all hallmarks of the Spirit’s presence in our lives. All are crucial and take an enormous amount of effort – supported by the POWER of the Holy Spirit!
Is there a place in our lives today that would benefit from unity? Are there relationships and situations that require healing and strength to grow? Do we recognize circumstances (perhaps beyond our control) that cry out for the Lord’s intervention? If so, then we can confidently turn to the Spirit for the grace we need to face what lies before us.
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth. O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit did instruct the hearts of the faithful , grant that by the same Spirit we may be truly wise, and ever rejoice in his consolation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen!
Study: Where in my life have I discovered God’s strength and grace? How have others helped me?
Pray: Where do I need God’s strength right now? Call upon the Lord with boldness to face the challenges of life.
Serve: How can I be an instrument of God’s strength to another? How can I help someone today?
I can only imagine the surge of excitement that went through the disciples as the word was shared. Beyond the agony of the Cross and the sorrow of the Tomb on that first day of the week the message was proclaimed: He’s Alive!
And everything changes. This group of disciples – bound by fear and selfishness – are transformed with a new strength and conviction. Their encounter with the Risen Lord will empower them to face the obstacles of this world with joy and hope. They have seen the risen Christ…what is there to fear? They have embraced the one who has conquered sin and death – there is NOTHING that can shake their confidence in the light of Easter morning.
This same strength comes to us. Like the first disciples, we can turn to Jesus and allow his saving grace to renew us with a strength far beyond our own. We can claim a hope that sustains us in the midst of our challenges and struggles. The Easter sunrise brings light to the darkest corners of our hearts.
What in our lives needs to be touched by Jesus Christ? We are invited to boldly come forward, receive his resurrection strength, and face whatever this world presents with confidence: the victory of Christ enlivens us to travel through life with the conviction that the grace he gave his disciples continues in our hearts today.
May this Easter season be a time of transformation and renewal; a time where we embrace the gift of our lives with a new freedom and conviction. In the light of this Easter, may we follow the one who leads us from sin and death to the abundance of life…in this world, and the world to come.
Note: This post was originally published on March 29, 2015.
Jesus heals two people in the Gospel today, revealing his power as the Son of God. As his disciples we continue the Lord’s healing work as we draw strength from Christ…the source of our healing.
Photo Credit: The Passion of the Christ, 2004.