The Gospel today is preparing us Pentecost, and the sending of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who gives us wisdom and understanding and invites us to meditate on the Word of God so that we can understand how that Word can change our lives.
Our first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, challenges us to consider again how decisions are made in our Church and how we make big moral and ethical decisions and really all decisions in our lives. We Catholics now have a very highly developed understanding of authority in the Church, but that understanding is clearly based in these early developments of authority and the guidance of the Holy Spirit at work in the Church. One can see from this chapter from the Acts of the Apostles that even in the early Church, there was a structure of some sort.
When troubles arose in the early Church, there was already a sense that the Apostles and Elders in Jerusalem were the people to turn to in order to make decisions and resolve an issue. We have a fairly good idea of who the Apostles were, and their successors so this is all part of our tradition. For those who lived when the Acts of the Apostles was written, it probably would have been obvious who was meant by “presbyters.”
In today’s Gospel we continue with the challenge of knowing how to live the Christian life with others: whoever loves me will keep my word. It is clear from the Scriptures that if we want to follow Jesus, then we must allow our lives to be formed by His words in the Scripture. We must study Scripture, not as scholars do but as people who are thirsty to live by His word and then put it into action in our lives.
When we find that we don’t understand what His word means, then we must ask the Apostles and the Elders of our own time. These are people who speak for the Christian community today. We Catholics have the Pope and the Bishops. We also have Scripture scholars who help us and those in authority deepen our understanding of what the Scriptures mean.
Today there are all kinds of conflicts about what the Scriptures mean, in practically every area of morality, but with regard to the Natural law that never changes, and no state or Government law can make something that is against the natural law to be right. We find totally opposite explanations and understandings for various Scriptural passages. For us, these disagreements should be healthy because they make us think more and try to understand more.
Let us ask God today to send His Holy Spirit more fully into our lives. May that Holy Spirit intercede for us and for our world so that we can understand the revealed Word of God more completely and allow our lives to be formed by that Word.
“Come Holy Spirit fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love”