Currently we are in the octave of Easter. Believing that there is too much joy to be comprehended in the Easter Sunday Resurrection, our celebration of Easter is extended over the whole week. The Bible Alive reflection focuses for now on the First Reading at Mass taken from Acts of the Apostles (at the bottom).
This is a bank holiday. A day to rest from work, take a break, enjoy yourself and be with your family; a day to ‘recreate’ which, as we all know, means ‘re-create’, to refresh and recuperate from our work. There is nothing wrong with that — rest and recreation are the flipside of working hard and giving your all. However, while we may rest in our bodies, the liturgy takes no rest in its leading of us through the breathtaking gospel story. No sooner have we reveled in the resurrection of our Lord than the liturgy leaps to the account of the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost — although we will have to wait for fifty days to pass before we celebrate this feast. The Church, almost in her excitement and joy, leads us to reflect and pray on the meaning of the outpouring of the Spirit.
So intoxicated and happy were the first believers at the early hour of nine in the morning that people thought they were literally drunk! And, of course, they were — they were drunk on the Spirit of God. Peter proclaimed immediately that the disciples were not drunk on alcoholic spirits but on the Spirit of the Living God. In fulfilment of Jesus’ promise, God had poured out his Spirit to equip his followers for the task of proclaiming the gospel to the world. Peter saw in this unique and wonderful event the fulfilment of the words of the prophet Joel who had pointed to a time when the Spirit would indeed be poured out upon all humankind (Joel 2:28-32). The coming of the Holy Spirit was happening before their very eyes.
This was a transformative event. The coming of the Spirit brought about transformation in the lives of the disciples. They went from being cowed, cowardly and confused to joyful witnesses for Christ. It was as if they had drunk deeply from the well of salvation and were drunk on the spirit of joy. Are you drunk on joy? Is your parish a joy-fuelled and joy-filled community? In his recent Apostolic Exhortation Pope Francis chides us all in a teasing, fun kind of way, suggesting that too often as believers we can live as if it is a perpetual Lent and not Easter, and we can seem as if we have just returned from a funeral not a Resurrection!
Lord, fill me, on this Easter Monday, with the new joy and hope of the gospel.
FIRST READING: Acts of the Apostles 2:14, 22-33
On the day of Pentecost, Peter stood up with the Eleven and addressed them in a loud voice: ‘Men of Judaea, and all you who live in Jerusalem, make no mistake about this, but listen carefully to what I say. ‘Men of Israel, listen to what I am going to say: Jesus the Nazarene was a man commended to you by God by the miracles and portents and signs that God worked through him when he was among you, as you all know. This man, who was put into your power by the deliberate intention and foreknowledge of God, you took and had crucified by men outside the Law. You killed him, but God raised him to life, freeing him from the pangs of Hades; for it was impossible for him to be held in its power since, as David says of him:
I saw the Lord before me always,
for with him at my right hand nothing can shake me.
So my heart was glad
and my tongue cried out with joy;
my body, too, will rest in the hope
that you will not abandon my soul to Hades
nor allow your holy one to experience corruption.
You have made known the way of life to me,
you will fill me with gladness through your presence.
‘Brothers, no one can deny that the patriarch David himself is dead and buried: his tomb is still with us. But since he was a prophet, and knew that God had sworn him an oath to make one of his descendants succeed him on the throne, ‘what he foresaw and spoke about was the resurrection of the Christ: he is the one who was not abandoned to Hades, and whose body did not experience corruption. God raised this man Jesus to life, and all of us are witnesses to that.
Now raised to the heights by God’s right hand, he has received from the Father the Holy Spirit, who was promised, and what you see and hear is the outpouring of that Spirit.