Seventh Sunday of Easter Acts 1: 12-14; 1 Peter 4: 13-15; John 17: 1-11
“After Jesus was taken up into heaven, the apostles went back to Jerusalem, and when they reached the city they went to the upper room where they were staying. All these joined in continuous prayer, together with several women, including Mary the mother of Jesus.”
The Acts of the Apostles describes the period from the Ascension to Pentecost as a time of prayerful expectation. It represented the end of that a time in which the disciples had come to know Jesus as the Lord that they had seen and heard, had touched with their own hands, who had shared their table. In our human frailty we frequently cling to the comfort of a remembered past. In the days following the Ascension, those first disciples must surely have experienced something of this sense of loss. Through prayer, this loss became a trusting expectation that this same Lord would reveal his presence in a yet more wonderful way, through the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The Covid pandemic has, in many different ways, left us with a sense of loss. It provides us, in a way not unlike that period following the Ascension, with an opportunity for prayerful reflection, for a renewed faith in a future that lies not within ourselves, but in the power of the Christ’s promised Spirit.
Yes, it is, and continues to be, a time of suffering, but prayerful reflection enables us to interpret that pain in the light of Christ. Such was the instruction of Peter’s First Letter:
“If you can have some share in the suffering of Christ, be glad, because you will enjoy a much greater gladness when his glory is revealed.”
Such glory has been revealed in the countless acts of selfless love that we have witnessed and shared in recent days.
The Apostles, together with Mary, gathered together in prayerful expectation. As we await the celebration of Pentecost, we are not simply marking time. We are gathered together in that same prayer, a prayer that is all too conscious of its own frailty. As we pray, let us remember the prayer that Jesus prayed for us on the night before he died.
“Father, I pray for them, for those you have given me, because they belong to you. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine, and in them I am glorified.”
We pray as those already held in the prayer of our glorified and Risen Lord.