6th Week of Easter, Wednesday, May 12
Acts 17:15, 22 - 18:1 / John 16:12-15
A young Hindu and a Christian seminarian were attending the same week-long seminar on the Sermon on the Mount. In the course of the week, the two young people became good friends.
At one point the young Hindu confided to the seminarian that he had problems with Jesus' sermon. He knew how much it had influenced Gandhi, and he wanted to live his life by it. But he feared it was too lofty an ethic for ordinary people to live by. Toward the end of the seminar, however, the Hindu gained new insight into his problem. The ethic was indeed lofty, but he had forgotten about Jesus' promise. The Holy Spirit will not only teach the people the value of the ethic but also empower them to follow it.
How open are we to the Holy Spirit's guidance and help? "Where the human spirit fails, the Holy Spirit fills." Anonymous
St. Paul in Athens gives us an example of an apostle and missionary who tries to take the pagan religion of the Athenians as a starting point and to spiritualize it by stripping it from materialism and formalism.
When Paul speaks to Jews, he starts from the Word of God: God's revelation. When he speaks to the Gentiles, he starts from the work of God: his manifestation. By mentioning the "Unknown God" he begins from what they know, to lead them to a deeper knowledge. This God does not make his home in temples and shrines. He is not made by people; he is their Maker. He has no need for us. We need him. He is independent, perfect in himself. He gives us life, not we to him. He made us, not we him. He made all men. There is no national God. But in his providence, he looks after everyone. He created our heart for him. All men desire God. He is not far from us. "In Him we live" like the branches in the vine. All life comes from the vine. "In him we move", attracted by his holiness, his mercy, his forgiveness, his grace. In him we are the idea of his image and likeness. We are made for him. His law, our duties an rights, our responsibility, our love, our eternity are all grounded in him At this point Paul noticed doubts, rejection, mockery. He changed an said some hard truths. They were ignorant in religion. They had to change their minds and do penance. One day God, who rose from the dead will judge thon. This was too much for them. Some burst out laughing, though laughter is never an argument. Others said more politely: about this we will hear another time. We cannot ignore God or his will. So, Paul left and went to Corinth.
The apostles should not be sad because Jesus leaves them. Their faith will become deeper and more spiritual when Jesus is no longer physically present. The Holy Spirit of truth will continue with them the mission of Jesus. This Spirit of truth will give them no new message, but he will guide the apostles and the Church to deepen their understanding of the life and the message of Jesus and to confront these constantly with the events and problems of the times. And thus, lead the Church forward.
The self-manifestation of God which brings God's truth to people is called revelation. This passage tells us much about it. Revelation is an ongoing process. "I have still many things to say to you" (verse 11). Revelation has never been closed. It was not closed when Jesus left his apostles, and when the Holy Spirit came down on Pentecost Sunday at nine a.m. This was only the beginning. This revelation is not only in the Bible, it is in the tradition as well. The Holy Spirit is always active. God reveals when we are able to hear it (verse 12). It is not man 's discovery, it is God's gift. The Holy Spirit will not bring a new gospel. He is the agent who will bring home to the human heart all that God has revealed to Jesus. The revelation is God's word given to us through Jesus. Paul's gospel too is God's revelation to Jesus (Galatians 1-12).
Empiricism is a philosophical theory that all knowledge is based on experience derived from the senses. It means that as long as we can touch it, see it, hear it, smell it or taste it, then we can know it or find out more about it. Anything outside of the senses are not to be discussed as they don't appeal to the senses and hence, nothing can be known about it and no experience can be gained from it. So it can be said that empiricism does not take into account the "sixth sense" or "intuition" as it cannot be measured or quantified. How empiricism handles the question of faith depends on how much of it is considered acceptable.
In the 1st reading, when Paul stood before the whole Council of Areopagus and made the speech, what he said was acceptable to them until he talked about God raising a man from the dead. At this mention of raising from the dead, some of them burst out laughing, while others seem to be interested in that.
As much as we profess that we believe in the Resurrection of Christ, yet we too may not really understand what it is truly about. We may not laugh at it but we have our questions that we are still search for the answers. There may be much material on it but we will have to let the Spirit of truth lead us to a deeper understanding of the mystery of our faith.
What we cannot understand, let us not discard or reject or laugh at it. The time may come when the Spirit of truth will lead us to a leap of faith and then we will be enlightened.
Prayer: Lord God, our Father, you are not far away from any of us, for in you. we live and move and exist and you live in us through your Holy Spirit. Be indeed with us Lord, send us your Holy Spirit of truth and through him deepen our understanding of the life and message of your Son, that we may accept the full truth and live with it consistently. We ask you this through Christ, our Lord. Amen