Offered by Father Matthew Dallman for the Parish of Tazewell County, on the Seventh Sunday Easter, Year A, 2017.
We find ourselves this morning within the in-between time—after the Ascension of Our Lord and before the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, whom Jesus promised would come to teach us, guide us, and lead us into all truth. This is a time of prayer, and indeed our nine day period of prayer, our Novena for the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, emulates what Mary and the disciples did during this time—devoting themselves with one accord to prayer. The picture of the first Christian community is given us by Luke: the community together in prayer, accompanied by Mary, waiting together in prayer for what God has promised them. Although there are many times throughout the liturgical year that we are aiming outward and explicitly focus on the relationship of the Church with the wider world, this time of Ascension, the final days of Eastertide, has us focused on Jesus and His relationship with His closest disciples, including His mother Mary.
Today in our Novena we petition the Holy Spirit to give us the gift of Understanding. Whereas yesterday’s petition of Wisdom asked God to make us aware of the mysteries of divine things, today’s prayer asks God to help us understand them, that we may be enlightened by the mysteries, and know and believe. We are asking God for the ability to discern how the divine mysteries are at work in the world, and see the world around us with the eyes of Christ. Would Christ look around at our world today and see the same things that we see? It is a question always worth asking, for it is a question that challenges us to allow ourselves to be stretched into seeing things beyond our normal pattern of perception. Teach us, O Holy Spirit, to see with Your eyes, that we might apply our heart unto wisdom in this life and be made worthy to attain to the vision glorious in the life to come.
Teach us, in other words, to keep thy word. Teach us to know, through the gifts of Wisdom and Understanding and the other gifts, that the words of Jesus that He gave us, came from His Father, given to Him so that we would receive the words of Jesus, keep His words, and know that the Father is the only true God, that the Son is the only true God, that the Holy Spirit is the only true God. Teach us to find the divine holiness that comes from the mystery of God Himself—three Divine Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God. Teach us how to pray with this truth, that by our prayer we might always give glory to your Holy Name.
Brothers and sisters, Jesus is the perfect pray-er. Throughout His growing up into the mature stature of Himself, increasing in wisdom as He grew older, He was always able to pray perfectly to His Father. Always, that is, able to adore His Father, for the word adore means to “pray toward.” Always inclined toward His Father, always awake and present to His inestimable presence, Jesus resurrected and glorified continues to be the perfect pray-er, and He prays for us. He prays that He will be glorified in us. He prays that we will be filled by the Holy Spirit, to continue in the world the work of healing and reconciliation that He began and then gave us. Let us sing to God, let us sing praises to the Lord. Let us continue steadfastly in our prayer, in community with the disciples and with Mary, and do so in one accord. Christ has gone up on high so that in His prayer, His adoration of the Father, the creator of all things, seen and unseen, He might pray for us with such incomprehensible power to shake the earth, and dwell among us deep within our hearts, that our very lives sing praises to our God. Amen.