Receive the Holy Spirit and give up your life! These words could summarize our new readings. This is the rounding of the church, of those inebriated people who are moved by the Spirit and who become willing to die for love of Jesus and each other.
Remember how the Spirit outstrips the church in Acts, descending upon all those Gentiles and unbelievers, and bringing the church running along behind-"quick, baptize them!" The church which is made up of us, and many like us over the centuries, is always failing. The miracle is that we keep getting up, being forgiven, going on-and growing in love despite our own reluctance. And that God still loves, still beckons us forward.
We have again alternated the Sundays, this time with Jim doing the first, third, fifth, seventh, and ninth, and Shelley the second, fourth, sixth, and eighth.
May 5: A Dangerous Formula
Acts 7:55-60; Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16; 1 Peter 2:2-10; John 14:1-14
To die a martyr is a blessing. That un-American sentiment is the Good News in our first reading, the stoning of Stephen in Acts. Martyrdom for a Christian is a joy because it corresponds to Jesus' death, our way of life.
As Stephen is about to be killed, he says, "Look, I see the heavens opened and the Human Being standing at the right hand of God!" Jesus is standing, not sitting, so as to welcome the dying Stephen into his presence. The crucified Human Being is at the right hand of God, where Stephen will soon join him.
The portrayal of Stephen at his stoning recalls Jesus at his crucifixion in the same author's gospel. Stephen's statement, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit," echoes, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit" (Luke 23:46). And his "Lord, do not hold this sin against them" corresponds to Jesus' "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34). The way of the cross is revealed in the gospel by the