Reflections for the Week of May 1, 2016 Sixth of Easter

Scriptures: Acts 16.9-15; Psalm 67; John 14.23-29; Revelations 21.10, 22-22.5.

Acts 16 is about Paul going from Asia to Europe to preach the gospel. Ps 67 speaks of God’s salvation and blessing. Acts 21,22 tells of the new heaven and new Jerusalem where the temple is God and the Lamb. In Jn 14 Jesus says He and the Father will make their home in believers.

Thirst for Righteousness

Eastertide is about the forty days after the resurrection till the Ascension, and then until the Holy Spirit comes at Pentecost (fifty days after Easter and ten days after the Ascension). The Scriptures for this week are about the spread of the gospel to Europe, salvation of Gentiles, and the end of time when a new earth will come into being and believers will receive new bodies kept for them in heaven, and dwell with God forever. In the meantime, in this life, God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, will dwell in believers. Jesus said, “How happy you will be if you hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Mt 5.6). He spoke these words in His Sermon on the Mount which reminds us of Moses receiving God’s law on Mt. Sinai and proclaiming it to Israel. Jesus is speaking of the holiness His followers will exhibit when they determine to practice love manifested by deeds. Jesus is the primary sacrament. A sacrament is a visible sign of the invisible presence of grace. A sacrament transmits what it signifies. Jesus transmitted what He signified, divine love, by His teaching and example. He also manifested humility by giving up His divine prerogatives in heaven by descending from heaven and becoming Man. God’s humility is to empty the divine prerogatives into the Son, and the Son into the Father. What binds them together is the Sprit, the mutual love of Father and Son. Each Person of the Trinity lives for the other rather than Himself. After Jesus, the greatest sacrament is a human being. We are made in the image of God, and these who have been taken up through faith and baptism into the body of Christ are growing into His likeness through the power of the Holy Spirit. To hunger and thirst for righteousness, holiness, and justice is to manifest love in all circumstances. This is what we were created to do. To manifest love is to manifest the Beatitudes and the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5.22,23) toward one another and thus to glorify God. Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, was able to manifest holiness, love, justice, and humility perfectly and we can see these virtues exemplified in His life. Believers inhabited by the Holy Spirit are on the path to becoming like Christ through the process of sanctification by the Holy Spirit (Phil 1.6). This process takes place through overcoming the temptations that daily living presents. The greatest obstacle on this path is our false self with its fleshly desires, demands, and sin. We could also express this in classical terms as the world, the flesh, and the devil. Thirst is a powerful metaphor for the longing that all human beings have for a relationship with the Lord. Worship, prayer, Scripture, and Christian fellowship are means of grace by which the Holy Spirit can overcome worldly temptations and sanctify believers. The Spirit is represented by both breath/wind and water in the Scriptures, and that water satisfies our thirst for righteousness and for God (cf. Jn 4,7).

Memory Verse: On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified (Jn 7.37-39).

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