Did you play the game of “telephone” when you were young? You sat in a circle with other kids and one started by whispering something into the ear of the next kid. The second kid whispered it to the next kid, and so on until the message made its way around the whole circle. When the last kid announced the message to the whole group, it usually bore very little resemblance to the original message. Words got distorted, mistaken, or forgotten when transferred from person to person. But this is not the case when it comes to the three Persons of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit, “the Spirit of truth, (who) will guide you to all truth,” will take from God the Son, who has everything that God the Father has (John 16:13). Nothing is lost or changed when communicated among Father, Son, and Spirit. Proverbs foreshadows this closer –than– close relationship when speaking of the role of God’s wisdom in creation. Divine wisdom is part of God, though distinct from God, yet inseparable from God. So too with the Trinity. Since the “love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit,” as Paul writes to the Romans (5:5), we can be assured of getting the message right.
How do you picture your relationship among the three Persons of the Trinity?
¿Jugaste al juego del “teléfono” cuando eras joven? Los niños se sentaban en un círculo con otros niños y empezaban por susurrar algo al oído del siguiente niño. El segundo niño se lo susurró al siguiente niño, y así sucesivamente hasta que el mensaje se extendió por todo el círculo. Cuando el último niño anunció el mensaje a todo el grupo, generalmente se parecía muy poco al mensaje original. Las palabras se distorsionan, se confunden o se olvidan cuando se transfieren de una persona a otra. Pero este no es el caso cuando se trata de las tres Personas de la Trinidad. El Espíritu Santo, “el Espíritu de verdad, él los irá guiando hasta la verdad plena”, tomará de Dios el Hijo, quien tiene todo lo que Dios Padre tiene (Juan 16:13). Nada se pierde o cambia cuando se comunica entre Padre, Hijo y Espíritu. Proverbios prefigura esta relación más estrecha que estrecha cuando se habla del papel de la sabiduría de Dios en la creación. La sabiduría divina es parte de Dios, aunque distinta de Dios, pero inseparable de Dios. Así también con la Trinidad. Ya que el “amor de Dios ha sido infundido en nuestros corazones por medio del Espíritu Santo”, como Pablo escribe a los Romanos (5:5), podemos estar seguros de que el mensaje es correcto.
¿Cómo imaginas tu relación entre las tres Personas de la Trinidad?
Most of us have a very powerful device in our pockets, a device that just ten years ago very few of us owned, and twenty years ago would have been unrecognizable: a smartphone. What a difference this makes! We have the ability to communicate with just about anyone, look up just about anything, and learn whatever our heart desires, all in the language of our choice. Not only that, we can use it wherever we are and any time we want. For those of us who grew up in the previous century, it still seems unbelievable. Could this be how the faithful of Jerusalem felt when each heard the disciples speaking in his or her own language simultaneously? The disciples were able to manifest the Holy Spirit in other ways as well, as Saint Paul mentions in his letter to the Corinthians. John recalled that Jesus had told them that the Holy Spirit “will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you” (John 14:26), enabling those who had been baptized into the faith to learn and remember God’s word anywhere they went and any time they wanted. The Holy Spirit dwells with us as well, more intimately and more powerfully than even our smartphones, communicating God’s word, teaching us the way of the Lord, and guiding us in our mission.
How is the Holy Spirit guiding you in your life?
La mayoría de nosotros tenemos un aparato muy poderoso en nuestros bolsillos, un aparato que hace solo diez años, muy pocos de nosotros teníamos, y hace veinte años no habíamos podido reconocerlo: un teléfono inteligente. ¡Qué diferencia hace esto! Tenemos la capacidad de comunicarnos con casi cualquier persona, buscar casi cualquier cosa y aprender lo que nuestro corazón desee, todo en el idioma de nuestra elección. No solo eso, podemos usarlo donde sea que estemos y cuando queramos. Para aquellos de nosotros que crecimos en el siglo anterior, todavía parece increíble. ¿Podría ser así como se sintieron los fieles de Jerusalén cuando cada uno escuchó a los discípulos hablar en su propio idioma simultáneamente? Los discípulos también pudieron manifestar el Espíritu Santo de otras maneras, como lo menciona San Pablo en su carta a los Corintios. Juan recordó que Jesús les había dicho que el Espíritu Santo “les enseñará todo y les recordará todo lo que les he dicho” (Juan 14:26), permitiendo que aquellos que han sido bautizados en la fe aprendan y recuerden la palabra de Dios en cualquier lugar y cualquier momento. El Espíritu Santo también mora con nosotros, de manera más íntima y poderosa que incluso nuestros teléfonos inteligentes, comunicando la Palabra de Dios, enseñándonos el camino del Señor y guiándonos en nuestra misión.
¿Cómo te guía el Espíritu Santo en tu vida?
Ascension marks the start of a major transition, a transition between Jesus’ physical presence here on earth and his physical absence. No longer can his disciples turn around and ask, “Master, what shall we do?” or say, “Teacher, show us the way.” But this cannot paralyze them. As the angels in Acts imply: Do not stand around looking at the sky. Be God’s witnesses to the ends of the earth. Carry on the mission. So they do. Luke, who also wrote the Acts of the Apostles, uses this very event—the Ascension—to separate his two accounts. In fact, the Gospel passage we hear today is the very end of his Gospel and the first reading is the very beginning of Acts. In Acts, Luke narrates the efforts of the disciples to preach to all the nations. He ends Acts with Saint Paul bearing witness in Rome, which for the people of Jerusalem at the time was regarded as the end of the earth in the West. Now it is us, called in baptism to be God’s witnesses, living in a place and at a time beyond the imagination of any of the original disciples, who are called to bear witness.
Are you standing around looking? How can you bear the witness to Christ today?
La ascensión marca el inicio de una transición importante, una transición entre la presencia física de Jesús aquí en la tierra y su ausencia física. Sus discípulos ya no pueden volverse y preguntar: “Maestro, ¿qué debemos hacer?” o decir: “Maestro, muéstranos el camino”. Pero esto no puede paralizarlos. Como lo implican los ángeles en Hechos: No te quedes mirando el cielo. Sean los testigos de Dios hasta los confines de la tierra. Continúen la misión. Y así lo hacen. Lucas, quien también escribió los Hechos de los Apóstoles, usa este mismo evento, la Ascensión, para separar sus dos narraciones. De hecho, el pasaje del Evangelio que escuchamos hoy es el final de su Evangelio y la primera lectura es el comienzo de Hechos. En Hechos, Lucas narra los esfuerzos de los discípulos por predicar a todas las naciones. Él termina Hechos con San Pablo dando testimonio en Roma, que para la gente de Jerusalén en ese momento era considerada como el fin de la tierra en el Occidente. Ahora somos nosotros, llamados en el bautismo a ser testigos de Dios, viviendo en un lugar y en un momento más allá de la imaginación de cualquiera de los discípulos originales, que estamos siendo llamados a dar testimonio.
¿Estás parado mirando a tu alrededor? ¿Cómo puedes dar el testimonio de Cristo hoy?
To see the effect of the Holy Spirit upon the work of the apostles, one has only to consider today’s first reading and Gospel. In John, Jesus promises his disciples that “the Advocate, the Holy Spirit,...will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you” (John 14:26). In Acts, the apostles and elders call upon the Holy Spirit. They have to decide whether or not Gentiles needed to be circumcised to become Christians. Jesus had called on his disciples to preach the Good News to all nations, but had never said what rules Gentiles needed to follow. The scene in Acts occurred around 50 A.D., meaning that about twenty years had passed between the time the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples and apostles and elders met in Jerusalem to consider this issue. They needed to discuss the issue among themselves, but they also needed someone to guide them, to teach them, and to enlighten them so that they could make the right decision. With the assistance of the Holy Spirit, they decided that Gentiles need only follow very limited Jewish laws. Now, nearly two thousand years later, we continue to call upon the Holy Spirit to guide, teach, and enlighten us as we struggle with difficult questions.
When do you look to the Holy Spirit for guidance?READ MORE
Perseverance. This is what the disciples needed when spreading the Good News around the Roman Empire in the face of persecution and hardship. This is what the early converts needed as they learned about Jesus Christ and lived out their new faith. This is what we all need in following the new commandment Jesus gives his disciples in the Gospel today. Perseverance. Once the exhortation ends and everyone returns home to their day-to-day responsibilities, that euphonric feeling fades away. So after Paul and Barnabas landed at Perga and traveled through Pamphylia and Pisidia and visited the cities of Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra, they retraced their steps exactly and “returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch,...then traveled through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia” (Acts 14:21, 24). Why bother? With the whole world to convert, why go back exactly the same way? Perhaps because they realized that their message was inspirational, but difficult. “Love one another.” Sure. “As I have loved you.” Uh-oh. Jesus’ love is a sacrificial love, culminating in the ultimate sacrifice. To love others this way—to put others first– is more difficult, more unpleasant, more exhausting than it seemed when Paul and Barnabas first spoke so fervently about it. We need perseverance.
When do you find it difficult to persevere in living out your faith?READ MORE
Today’s readings are quite dramatic, one featuring religious authorities who opposed the apostles Paul and Barnabas “with violent abuse,” another highlighting a crowd of people who had lived through the persecution of the early church. However, the lasting impression in each of the readings is one of tender comfort and hopeful reassurance. The church of the first century thrived with intense growth but also met with frequent persecution. As Christianity broke away from Judaism, both religious and state authorities targeted proselytizers of the new faith. Paul and Barnabas felt the wrath of the authorities and were expelled from Antioch in Pisidia. Yet as this passage ends they and the early Christians “were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit” (Acts 13:52). They were not filled with anger and resentment, or even fear and despair, but with hope and joy, for they knew God was with them. The Roman state offered no religious liberty to its subjects. Christians could be killed for rejecting the pagan faith of the Romans. Yet they were assured in their faith that “God (would) wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:17), for Jesus said, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish” (John 10:28).
How do you feel the consolation of your faith during times of hardship?READ MORE
What makes us worthy of what we have? We look at people who have fame, wealth, and success and wonder if they are really worthy of these blessings. In Revelation, angels and elders cry out, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, honor and glory and blessing” (Revelation 5:12). Clearly, Christ is worthy of all these attributes, for he suffered and died to bring salvation to the whole world. In Acts, however, the rewards for worthiness are much different. Peter and the apostles, condemned by the Sanhedrin for preaching the gospel, rejoice at having been “found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the (Lord’s) name” (Acts 5:41). To be condemned by the Sanhedrin, as Jesus was, is an honor. But before Peter got to this point, before he caught the netful of fish with the risen Lord, he did something quite dishonorable in the eyes of the Lord. On the night Jesus was arrested, Peter denied Jesus three times. In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives Peter three opportunities to repent, to undo his denials, to acknowledge his love for Jesus. After each affirmative answer, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, tells Peter to care for his sheep. Worthy is Peter to shepherd the flock, the church.
How are you worthy in the eyes of the Lord?READ MORE