The daily Mass readings for Eastertime, from the Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel of John, are so different in tone. As its title suggests, the Acts of the Apostles is a fast-moving account of a developing church spreading rapidly through the world through people like Paul of Tarsus and his companions. Blazing new trails and visiting new places, they’d be prime targets today for frequent flyer programs and travel sites on the internet. Always on the go.
The supper-room discourse of Jesus from the Gospel of John, on the other hand, seem to move slowly, repeating, lingering over the words of Jesus to his disciples. They tell us to listen and be quiet, sit still. Don’t go anywhere at all.
St. Paul of the Cross, the founder of the Passionists, was inspired by St. Paul, the Apostle, to preach and to teach. Many of his letters end telling his reader that he has to go, he’s off to preach the gospel somewhere. He was a “frequent flyer.”
But the Gospel of John also inspired him; it was the basis for his teaching on prayer. Keep in God’s presence, in pure faith, he often said. Enter that inner room and remain there. Don’t go anywhere.
“It’s not important for you to feel the Divine Presence, but very important to continue in pure faith, without comfort, loving God who satisfies our longings. Remain like a child resting on the bosom of God in faithful silence and holy love. Remain there in the higher part of your soul paying no attention to the noise of the enemy outside. Stay in that room with your Divine Spouse…Be what Saint John Chrysostom says to be: silent clay offered to the potter. Give yourself to your Maker. What a beautiful saying! What the clay gives to the potter, give to your Creator. The clay is silent; the potter does with it what he wills. If he breaks it or throws away, it is silent and content, because it knows it’s in the king’s royal gallery.” (Letter 1515)