A Word about the Readings
by Father Gethin
(The readings may be found here)
As we pass into the last days of Eastertide, our focus begins to shift, as Jesus’ teaching also shifts, from the meaning of His Resurrected person, to the promise His Resurrection proclaims: “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” And once more the disciples are caught in a place of confusion and dismay: how can there be any good in the Lord’s absence? –so that, as He tells them such things, “sorrow hath filled [their] heart[s].” They cannot tell what good is there. And neither can any mortal soul, out of their own, earthly experience, know any form for blessing and joy, outside of earthly, mortal means. We know in part, and we see in part, and then only dimly, St. Paul tells us (1 Cor. 13). We understand goodness as earthly power and mortal means of liberty; “but it shall not be so among you,” Jesus told them. “The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24). This is the whole sense of God’s purpose in our Redemption, not only that we should be saved from our own ruin, but that ultimately, His ways should become our ways. Our life, our human experience and story is to become primarily a matter of spiritual ways and eternal ends and blessings. “Marvel not,” therefore, “I told you, you must be born again.” Only by that rebirth, only by passing through the new and living way of His Resurrected life and person, could any of this become clear, and real for us. And so only by the sending of the Holy Spirit, Who is the unlimited presence and power of God, the in-dwelling of His goodness to all faithful people in all times and places, only then, could we begin to be what He has called us to be: His own people.
For the Apostles, as it is for us, it would only be from within that divine presence, that His good purpose could become clear: for it will not mean an end to injustice, in this earthly life, just as no one is ever compelled to believe in God; but it will mean the judgement of the powers of darkness, and their lies, which stand behind every injustice. In this way, as it makes its way in the power of the Holy Spirit, the Church learns to command its authority as the vessel of the Gospel. And what is that authority? It is the freedom to encourage people to look up to heaven, not for condemnation, but for blessing, knowing that from the seat of His heavenly glory Christ Himself continues to bless us, daily, with His love, through the sending of the Holy Spirit. It means that we, in our own way, are also free to bare our arms and show our scars, the scars of our sins and the sins of those who hurt us, not because we take any pride in our sorrows and wretchedness, but to show how God, in the freely offered wounds and life of His Son, has saved and healed us. And so, as we rejoice in our Lord’s Risen presence, and marvel at His own scarred and sacred humanity, we call out, as we learn to trust His care for us, with hope, and with the anticipation that always greater things await us, ‘Come, Holy Spirit, Come!”