Gospel: John 14.15-21 tells of Jesus’ promise to send the Holy Spirit to take His place when He departs. He also promises that we will be in Him (Jesus) and He will be in us. In four days on our calendar, May 25, of the Liturgical year Jesus will have spent forty days with His disciples on earth and He will ascend from them into His ‘dimension’ which is intimately interlocked with our spacetime world, but is invisible to us. Jesus has taken His place as Ruler of the world on the cross, and He has sent His followers to be God’s image-bearers and agents to bring in the kingdom of God initiated by the Lord. As a kingdom of priests they work quietly, planting seeds that grow secretly, calling people to be co-creators of the new creation. They reflect God into the world and reflect the praises of the world back to God. They become more fully what humans were meant to be through the power of the Spirit. The book of Acts is about what Jesus is doing through the Spirit to implement His kingdom through His followers. They have become new temples (1 Cor 3.16; 6.19) where heaven and earth are joined to build for the kingdom. It will require God to build it but nothing His people do toward that end will be lost (1 Cor 15. 58). All kingdom work is rooted in worshipping the God we see at work in Jesus. Worship creates the community, the church, which is His body that exercises His rule in the world. The church is to bring heaven’s rule to earth. The Beatitudes are the agenda and charter for kingdom people. The Sermon on the Mount is a call to Jesus’ followers to take up their new vocation as light to the world and salt to the earth. Jesus doesn’t send tanks or bombs to change the world but people who hunger for righteousness, the pure in heart, gently implementing powerful self-giving love. They must obey God rather than human beings (Acts 5.29). It may well mean suffering and persecution. The Ascension of the Lord is described in Dn 7 with Jesus going in the clouds to sit at the right hand of the Father. He is given power over the sea-beasts representing the powers of the earth. The book of Acts tells of the work of Jesus through the Spirit in the world after He has departed through His people and ends with Paul in Rome proclaiming the Kingdom God under Caesar’s nose. When Jesus returns at the Last Day (the Parousia), His people will meet Him in the air like a welcoming committee and accompany Him back to earth to proclaim His reign. The present world is out of joint and God’s judgment will be an act of new creation through which it will be restored by Jesus in the second coming to the way God always intended it to be. The resurrection is all about Jesus as the prototype, the first fruits, of the new creation as it breaks into the old order. The second coming is all about Jesus as the coming Lord and Judge who will transform the entire creation. The present age which overlaps with the age to come is about the church acting in the power of the Spirit to give allegiance to Jesus as Lord implementing His victory in the world. This will involve suffering, misunderstanding, violence, failure, and shipwreck. Jesus won His victory through suffering; His followers will win theirs through sharing His Spirit and suffering for His kingdom. But the final victory is assured. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also give us all things?” (Rm 8.32,33).
Memory Verse: If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you (Rm 8.11).