22 May – Fifth Sunday of Easter
The Spirit Of Truth
We celebrate the coming of Christ’s Spirit of truth on the Church, the source of the Churchs proclamation of the Chistian message to the world.
– The Sunday Missal
Acts of the Apostles 6:1-7
About this time, when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenists made a complaint against the Hebrews: in the daily distribution their own widows were being overlooked. So the Twelve called a full meeting of the disciples and addressed them, ‘It would not be right for us to neglect the word of God so as to give out food; you, brothers, must select from among yourselves seven men of good reputation, filled with the Spirit and with wisdom; we will hand over this duty to them, and continue to devote ourselves to prayer and to the service of the word.’ The whole assembly approved of this proposal and elected Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus of Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
The word of the Lord continued to spread: the number of disciples in Jerusalem was greatly increased, and a large group of priests made their submission to the faith.
1 Peter 2:4-9
The Lord is the living stone, rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him; set yourselves close to him so that you too, the holy priesthood that offers the spiritual sacrifices which Jesus Christ has made acceptable to God, may be living stones making a spiritual house. As scripture says: See how I lay in Zion a precious cornerstone that I have chosen and the man who rests his trust on it will not be disappointed. That means that for you who are believers, it is precious; but for unbelievers, the stone rejected by the builders has proved to be the keystone, a stone to stumble over, a rock to bring men down. They stumble over it because they do not believe in the word; it was the fate in store for them.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people set apart to sing the praises of God who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
Jesus said to his disciples:
‘Do not let your hearts be troubled.
Trust in God still, and trust in me.
There are many rooms in my Father’s house;
if there were not, I should have told you.
I am going now to prepare a place for you,
and after I have gone and prepared you a place,
I shall return to take you with me;
so that where I am
you may be too.
You know the way to the place where I am going.’
Thomas said, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’ Jesus said:
‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.
No one can come to the Father except through me.
If you know me, you know my Father too.
From this moment you know him and have seen him.’
Philip said, ‘Lord, let us see the Father and then we shall be satisfied.’ ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip,’ said Jesus to him ‘and you still do not know me?
‘To have seen me is to have seen the Father,
so how can you say, “Let us see the Father”?
Do you not believe
that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?
The words I say to you I do not speak as from myself:
it is the Father, living in me, who is doing this work.
You must believe me when I say
that I am in the Father and the Father is in me;
believe it on the evidence of this work, if for no other reason.
I tell you most solemnly,
whoever believes in me
will perform the same works as I do myself,
he will perform even greater works,
because I am going to the Father.
There are many rooms in my Father’s house
One of the things I struggle with is to trust that I will enter heaven. The fear that I may somehow do something wrong and end up in hell is so great that I find myself constantly striving to be the “good”. Whenever I pray, I strive to purify myself by seeking out areas in my life that are sinful so that God will forgive me, not think of me as a “proud Pharisee”, and I will eventually have a place in heaven. I keep putting myself down in front of God so that I will appear “humble” in His presence. After all, Jesus said that only the lowly will be exalted! Yet, this practice makes it hard for me to stay in God’s presence. I dislike praying more than I need to because it is so tiring and painful to keep putting myself down.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus reassures His disciples to trust that He will get them to heaven; they do not have to worry about how to get there on their own. He tells them that He is preparing a room for each of them. On one hand, I can believe that there is such a room up there with my name on the door, carefully prepared by Jesus to include all my favourite things – comfortable pillows, baby colours on the walls, etc. On the other hand, I see this room as one that will somehow remain empty, because I will never be able to occupy it. Somehow, while I trust that Jesus will try to get me to heaven, I do not trust myself to follow Him because I know that my sinful nature will make me turn from God every now and then. If I happen to die in those moments when I turn from God, wouldn’t I then end up in hell? As I always tell my friends, “I trust God to lead, but I don’t trust myself to follow”.
Yet, reflecting on this attitude, I realize that I don’t really trust God to take me home. I place 50% of trust in God, and 50% in myself. God will do His part, but I will fail in mine. Is this really what trust is? A 50-50 equation? Doesn’t trust require 100%? I trust God 100% in certain areas of my life, such as in how He will take care of me in this life regardless of what happens. I trust God to take care of me even if I don’t get the jobs I desire or if I end up lonely, rejected by everyone I love. Yet, I realize that I do not trust God to lead me home to Him.
What about you? Do you trust that Jesus is preparing a room for you – based on your preferences and idiosyncratic ways? Do you trust that He will lead you into that room? If you, like me, struggle to trust, let us together pray for the grace to surrender this area of our lives to God. The alternative is that we will continue to be our own god in this area of our life, carefully planning our own way to heaven.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Jean Cheng)
Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, I surrender my life after my physical body has passed away to You. I trust in Your love for me, to bless and care for me more than I can ever fathom.
Thanksgiving: We thank God for revealing our deep seated fears in order to heal us.
Mon, 23 May – Acts of the Apostles 14:5-18; John 14:21-26
Tue, 24 May – Acts of the Apostles 14:19-28; John 14:27-31
Wed, 25 May – Acts of the Apostles 15:1-6; John 15:1-8; Memorial for St Bede the Venerable, Priest & Doctor of the Church; Memorial for St Gregory VII, Pope; Memorial for St Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin
Thu, 26 May – Acts of the Apostles 15:7-21; John 15:9-11
Fri, 27 May – Acts of the Apostles 15:22-31; John 15:12-17; Memorial for St Augustine of Cantebury, Bishop
Sat, 28 May – Acts of the Apostles 16:1-10; John 15:18-21
Sun, 29 May – Acts of the Apostles 8:5-8.14-17; 1 Peter 3:15-18; John 14:15-21; Sixth Sunday of Easter