Our readings for this Sixth Sunday of Easter are preparing us for Pentecost Sunday two weeks from today. That’s the day the church specifically celebrates the presence of Jesus Spirit in the world. It’s a Spirit that remains 180 degrees opposed to the world’s prevailing spirit of competition, violence, misogyny, and alienation from creation. The world’s is a spirit of fear and control that has nothing to do with what is finally important in life.
To all of that, today’s readings juxtapose Jesus’ own Spirit as one of healing, joy, and common good.
It recognizes human family, cooperation, non-violence, and respect for Mother Earth as the foundational elements of our lives.
Here’s the way I translate today’s readings (For the sake of comparison, you can find the originals here.):
ACTS 8: 5-8, 14-17: It was care for others – psychological and physical healing – that caused people to pay attention to early presentations of Jesus’ New Way. It was life inspired by a Spirit of Wholeness that acknowledged the unity of all creation. The laying on of hands brought together symbolically and in reality, the left and right hemispheres of each person’s brain; yes, it made them whole and happy.
PSALMS 66: 1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 26: Such joy is God’s will for everyone everywhere on earth. It comes inevitably when we open our eyes to the beauty of creation and our ears to the songs it sings. But more than anything, joy comes from the miraculous liberation of the oppressed (as when former slaves crossed the Reed Sea). Our God is so kind and merciful.
1 PETER 3: 15-18: So, if anyone asks you why you’re so happy, tell them gently that it’s because you’ve discovered the Christ within yourself and within everyone you meet. Of course, most won’t believe you. They might even try to harm you. But remember, that’s the way they treated our great Master. Be assured that your non-violent response will eventually lead even violent opponents to embrace Jesus’ Spirit too.
JOHN 14: 15-21: In his last will and testament, Jesus promised that those who recognize the Christ present within themselves and everyone else will live by a truth 180 degrees opposite the “truth” of the world. The Truth of the Christ, he said, confers vision to perceive what’s invisible to worldly “wisdom” – the very presence of the divine in every human being. It enables them to recognize themselves (and the Christ) in everyone they meet.