7th Week of Easter, Monday, May 17
Acts 19:1-8 / John 16:29-33
Paul meets some incomplete Christians: He baptized then: in the name of Jesus
Organ transplanting involves two steps: taking out the old organ and putting in the new organ. These two steps help us understand better the difference between John's baptism and Christian baptisms.John's baptism was merely the preparation for Christian baptism. It was a baptism of repentance, a rejection of one's old life. Christian baptism, on the other hand, is a baptism of rebirth. a reception of a new life. Just as a person receiving an organ transplant has to take care of the new organ, which sometimes involves taking pills the rest of his or her life, so a new Christian must take care of the new life received in Christian baptism.
How are we taking care of our new life? "You have been raised to life with Christ, so set your hearts on the things that are in heaven." Col 3:1
"Have you received the Holy spirit?" was the decisive question in the early church. Not baptism alone made a Christian, but receiving the Spirit. When Paul came to Ephesus, he found some disciples, not of Jesus, but of John the Baptist. They had received only the baptism of John. John called people to penance. His baptism was only a purification rite. Its effect and value was the personal decision of turning away from sin and turning to God. This rite made their penance visible.
Christian baptism is enacting the paschal mystery: we die with Christ to sin, to rise with him to a new life. The Pasch (Easter) finds its completion only in Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit. So, it is in the sacramental life of the Christian. We are full, mature Christians only when we receive the Holy Spirit. He will lead us into all the truth, pour out love in our hearts and make us witnesses to Christ. Three sacraments are the redemptive sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist. They make us become and be Christians, in the fullness of what this means.
In four short statements Jesus tells his apostles what they must believe in. From eternity he proceeded from the Father, in the Incarnation he came into the world. Now he leaves the world in his passion and death and returns to the Father in the Resurrection and Ascension. It all sounded so clear to them that they thought they had understood him. When they repeat it, all they can say to him is, "You came from the Father". This faith had to be tested. In this test they failed. They will all leave him. In less than an hour, they will leave him alone But he is not alone, because his Father is with him. The Father and the prayer to the Father gave him the strength in the Garden and on the Cross. His second conviction: "I have overcome the world". Not, "I shall overcome", but "I have overcome". He is that sure. This is the victory that overcomes the world - our faith (verse 54).
We have to
admit that more often than not, we are attracted to the sensational and the
spectacular as well as the dramatic.
We are more inclined to be mesmerised by the fireworks than to know who invented pyrotechnics or how the development of it came about. So, as we read the 1st reading, we might be more inclined to ask what speaking in tongues and prophesy are all about. Maybe that is because we don't see these happening very often and also there is a mystery surrounding it.
As Christians baptized in the name of Christ, we have received the Holy Spirit of fortitude. With his help, we should be able to give a place to pain and suffering in our lives. It is part anyway of all human life. But to Christians, it makes even more sense: it was Christ’s way and the disciple can accept in peace and use it for the sake of bringing peace to others. Christ will help us bear it, for he has conquered the world.
Lord, our God, when your Son Jesus had to pass through trials, he knew that you were with him and he committed himself into your hands. In this way, he brought peace to people. As people baptized into his name, let your Spirit help us to be brave when suffering and difficulties come our way, that, like your Son and with him, we may overcome evil in ourselves and in the world. May our pains give birth to love and peace and hope for others. We ask you this through Christ, our Lord. Amen