Easter Week 7
The Spirit and the Mission
Week 7: May 16
Seventh Sunday of Easter
Not surprisingly for a Gospel that starts with the words “In the beginning”, the Passion and Resurrection narratives in the Gospel of John highlight many connections between the historical events of the first Holy Week and the beginning of the Book of Genesis. On Friday, the sixth day of the week, the day when Genesis describes the creation of man and woman, Pilate presents Jesus to the crowd with the proclamation “Behold the man.” On that same sixth day of the week, when Genesis says that “the heavens and the earth and all their array were completed”, Jesus’ last words on the cross are “It is finished.” On Saturday, the seventh day, when Genesis says that God rested from his work of creation, Jesus rests in the tomb. And then on Sunday, the first day of the week, the day when creation first began, the new creation begins - and where else, but in a garden. Mary Magdalene is not really wrong when she mistakes Jesus for the gardener, because John would have us understand that Jesus is indeed the man in the garden–the new Adam.
If we are talking about creation, it means that we are talking about the Holy Spirit, the animating presence that is looming everywhere behind creation both old and new. To stay with the Gospel of John, for instance, at the first meeting between the Risen Jesus and the disciples on the evening of Easter Sunday, Jesus breathes on them and says “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Although the days of Easter and Pentecost are 50 days apart in the liturgical calendar, the Church makes it clear that the 50-day Season of Easter is celebrated as if it were a single feast day. As St. Paul would say in the Letter to the Romans: “If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit that dwells in you.”
So here during this last week of the Easter Season let’s ask ourselves what it means to be a part of this New Creation that God has brought into being.
For one thing, we are called to share in God’s own judgment concerning creation as described in the first chapter of Genesis: that it is “very good.” This “first judgment”, so to speak, is definitively affirmed by the bodily resurrection of Jesus (not to mention the resurrection of our own bodies). As we have talked about earlier in this series, this means that we are not simply biding time until the next life; we have a job to do in the here and now.
Our work in the public square is part of that task. When we play our part in the political world, we are proving the point that we believe that creation is good and that religion is not just a matter for the world to come. The mission in the public square is an act of witness that, in the face of the “throwaway culture” which sees worth in wealth or celebrity or power, each and every human being has been given an inalienable dignity simply as a child of God, our all-loving Creator.
The other point to consider here is that the Spirit is always present with us to inspire and guide our work. In the back and forth of life and of politics in particular, the Spirit elevates us to see the world through a different sort of lens. As Pope Francis said in his Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate:
You need to see the entirety of your life as a mission. Try to do so by listening to God in prayer and recognizing the signs that he gives you. Always ask the Spirit what Jesus expects from you at every moment of your life and in every decision you must make, so as to discern its place in the mission you have received. Allow the Spirit to forge in you the personal mystery that can reflect Jesus Christ in today’s world.
Each Easter Season is God’s annual invitation to recommit ourselves to our baptismal calling as priests, prophets and kings. May this Easter inspire us to be missionaries of the Risen Jesus in the public square, and to dedicate ourselves to bringing the joy and hope of Easter to every person we will encounter over the coming year.
Read the excerpts in Chapter 7 of our e-Book.
God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, send forth your Spirit into our hearts that we might be confident and courageous witnesses to the gospel in the public square. May we always be faithful witnesses to the love that you have showed us in the dying and the rising of your Son, who is our health, our life, and our salvation. Amen.
In the past seven weeks of this series, we have reflected on our baptismal call to be transformed by God and to work toward transforming society. How will this experience serve as a catalyst to action in the future? How will you respond to this call?