Eager to Be in Jerusalem- Reflection for Mass of May 18, 2010

18 May

Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Ferial- Tuesday of the Seventh Week of Easter
Readings: Acts 20:16-27; Psalm 68:10-11, 20-21; John 17:1-11

The opening verse of today’s first reading from Acts describes Paul as “eager to be in Jerusalem… for the day of Pentecost.”[1] For the author of Luke-Acts, Jerusalem is the city of destiny. Later in the same reading, we hear that Paul is nearing the end of his course of apostolic service. He is, as Acts states, “a captive to the Spirit”[2] destined for the heavenly Jerusalem.

Paul’s experience that he conveys in his farewell speech at Miletus is much like our experience. We, too, await the Holy Spirit and the Resurrection from the dead, as we profess whenever we recite our Creed. As in the New American Bible translation we, like Paul, find ourselves “hurrying to be in Jerusalem”[3] for the day of Pentecost. We hurry with joy to encounter the Holy Spirit whom Jesus promised at the outset of the Church’s mission.[4]

Paul’s experience of eagerness to meet the Holy Spirit has increasingly been my experience over these last few weeks as I near the end of my Sacramental preparation classes that I have been teaching the children about to receive the Sacraments of the Eucharist, of Reconciliation and Penance, and of Confirmation this upcoming Sunday, Pentecost Sunday. I am sure the children are also eager to receive these Sacraments after preparing with me since October. They will receive the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ in the Eucharist, God’s tremendous forgiveness in Reconciliation, and the seal of the Holy Spirit in Confirmation. All year, these children have been eager learners and exemplars and teachers to me of Christ’s example of gentle humility. Together, we hurry toward Pentecost.

For St. Paul, Pentecost meant that his martyrdom was approaching. He had given himself in testimony “to the good news of God’s grace”[5] and was about to set off toward certain persecution and eventually death in Rome.[6]

However, Paul, facing such an end, remained joyful and confident that he had preached “the whole purpose of God.”[7] We might ask what this “whole purpose of God” is. I believe that the Gospel reading for today from John gives us the answer: Jesus does everything to glorify the Father; He does nothing for self-exultation. Jesus’ way is the way of unity, of peace, and of prayer. His last act before His Passion is to pray for us: “All mine are yours, and yours are mine… Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.”[8]

May we remember this prayer for unity and for charity among each other. Let us pray it for one another and for our Church in Christ’s name to the glory of God the Father as we eagerly await the coming of the Holy Spirit upon us this Pentecost.    


[1] Acts 20:16

[2] Acts 20:22

[3] Acts 20:16, NAB

[4] cf. Acts 1:8, Luke 24:48-49

[5] Acts 20:24

[6] Acts 20:23-25

[7] Acts 20:27

[8] John 17:11


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