7th Week of Easter Readings
Acts 19, 1-8
John 16, 29-33
Acts 20, 17-27
Acts 22,30 – 23,8-11
John 17, 20-26
Saturday Feast of St. Matthias
Acts 1, 15-17, 20-26
John 15, 9-17
When reading the Acts of the Apostles, remember Luke is not writing the story of Paul and his ministry as simply history. We easily get lost in the historical details of this book. Though his underlying plan is mostly unsaid, Luke presents Paul as a follower of Jesus.
Paul, following Jesus who said “Go out into the whole world and preach the gospel,” hurries from place to place in the Roman world to fulfill that command. Like Jesus, he himself is led by the Spirit, and so Paul leads disciples of John in Ephesus to embrace the Spirit and experience a new Pentecost. ( Monday)
Like Jesus, Paul bids farewell to his followers, and so he gathers the elders from Ephesus to urge them to continue the ministry given to him and to them by the Spirit. ( Tuesday and Wednesday) “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock. And from your own group, men will come forward perverting the truth to draw the disciples away after them. So be vigilant.”
Like Jesus, Paul must go up to Jerusalem (then to Rome). “ Compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem. What will happen to me there I do not know, except that in one city after another
the Holy Spirit has been warning me that imprisonment and hardships await me. Yet I consider life of no importance to me, if only I may finish my course. (Tuesday)
Paul experiences the passion of Jesus as he clashes with the Jewish leadership and appears before the Roman tribunal where Festus, judging him innocent yet in a quandary over the religious issues that are raised, sends Paul at his own request to be judged by the Emperor in Rome. (Thursday and Friday)
In the gospel readings from John from Monday to Thursday of this week Jesus bids farewell to his disciples and promises to be with them, no matter what. “In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have overcome the world.” (Monday) He will send them his Spirit.
“I pray for them,” Jesus says. (Tuesday) “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you preserve them from the Evil One.” (Wednesday) “I pray not only for these, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.” (Thursday)
Friday’s gospel reading from John takes us to the Lake of Galilee where Jesus commissions his apostle Peter to feed his sheep. Peter will stretch out his hands and be led where he did not want to go–“signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.” Paul too will be led to death like Peter. He will follow Jesus.
Saturday is the Feast of the apostle Matthias, the successor to Judas. The number of disciples will always be filled.
The readings for this week are a wonderful preparation for the Feast of Pentecost.