Ps. 139:1-17; Ezek. 37:1-14; Acts 2:1-21; John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15.
Sorrow, “But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts … Nevertheless … it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (16:5-7).
The Apostles believe they know Jesus, who now tells them he is going away; curiously they do not ask to where. It is characteristic of men to loath giving-up what we know for an unknown; “a bird in the hand” so to speak.
The Apostles remind us of Mary Magdalene on Easter morning clinging to Jesus before he ascended to the Father. They are sorrowful that Jesus is about to part their company. Soon Jesus would go to the cross for which he would offer Eucharistic prayer on their behalf (Jn. 17:6-19).
Even as the Apostles participated in the Supper’s new worship and fellowship, they did not grasp Jesus’ promise to send them the Comforter, Paraclete, Helper, Counselor.
For now, despite Jesus’ words of comfort, they sorrow. It must have sounded a lot like Jesus withdrawing from their communion by offering a consolation prize, a second-best replacement for his presence.
How could they think otherwise? Since the Fall, man inherited the sorrow of Eve’s curse in God’s step-back from presence; “To the woman, ‘I will surely multiply your sorrows in childbearing” (Gen. 3:16a). How terrible a punishment for the woman to know that by having entered into league with Satan, she who was created for bringing about life, was instead cause of her children’s demise.
Adam takes the occasion of his wife’s distress to extend gospel relief. Thus far she has been “the woman” but in her miasma Adam exercised his naming prerogative; she is now “Eve—mother of all living” (3:20).
In Scripture we find various heroines, daughters of Eve, portraying aspects of the church, outside of which there is no life; for apart from Christ, the Word with his church, men are but a heap of dissected, disinterred, very dry bones (Ezek. 37:1-14).
Still, one cannot help recalling the sorrow inhering in all women in childbearing; “A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more” (Jer. 31:15; Mt. 2:18).
We fast forward to Holy Thursday commencing the church’s Triduum, wherein NT worship of the Father in the crucified, resurrected, and ascended flesh of Christ was established; and fifty days after Pentecost finally arrived for Jesus’ Real Presence as God and Lord in power with his church.
Today we celebrate the church’s Jubilee to conclude of her Resurrection season. On the first Pentecost the Father glorified Jesus, in pouring out the Spirit upon the disciples in Jerusalem where Peter would preach Jesus’ name.
Many believed Peter and were baptized for forgiveness, even of killing their Messiah, and for gift of the HS (Acts 2:38); still some continued to reject the name of God’s Son, “God and Lord” present with new Israel.
If on Holy Thursday the Apostles sorrowed at Jesus “parting”; then on Pentecost the church experienced full reversal in joy at the HS’s procession into the church for life of the world.
On this day the eyes of the church were opened to her confession, “Hear, O Israel (that is, the whole house of dry bones, Jew and Gentile, baptized into the life-giving word and flesh of the resurrected Christ), the Lord our God is one” (Deut. 6:4).
By Adam and the woman’s sin, Satan gained foothold in God’s good creation, fouling and corrupting the earthly Garden, audaciously declaring himself, “Prince of the World”, his false flag planted in dying terrain.
But God, by his Son earnestly effected final reversal of death’s grave legacy. On the cross, God’s heart toward men; and Satan’s hatred of God were revealed at one and same moment.
Man’s Fall and death was never the prize; rather the object of Satan’s warfare in league with dominions, powers, authorities, principalities, angels, and archangels was theft from God of his beloved mankind for God’s death.
At the cross Satan’s murderous heart exulted at the “religious chorus” mocking Jesus, “He trusts in God” (Mt. 27:43). It appeared Satan had a victory “accompli”; but we enlightened of God by his Spirit, say of devilish knowledge, “they hardly knew Ye.”
Eternal life consists in this, “that [we] know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom [he] sent” (Jn. 17:3). By grace, God has completely given himself over to men for new life in a new creation joining him “en arche, in beginning” (1:1), the place of the Holy Trinity’s council and conversation throughout God’s reign in eternity by his Word.
From cross, resurrection, and ascension of the man Jesus to throne of God, the HS processed for the church’s enlightenment that we know God who kills and makes alive, who wounds and heals, out of whose hand none is delivered (Deut. 32:39; 1 Sam. 2:6).
God is one; a unity of persons, Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier of men in union with the Woman given his Son. Jesus, with his church, is known; to be “Love” as Love does, for all who believe in his name (Jn. 17:11b).
Children are “begotten” by fathers, and “born” of mothers. By Christ’s ordinance, we are baptized into his death and resurrection, “begotten from above” (3:3, 7) and “birthed” out of the Woman, “mother of all living” in water-blooded Word, and Spirit. We are children for Life invited to join the eternal conversation of Father and Son in love of the HS’s power.
In the upper room Jesus comforted his Apostles about sending the HS, saying “your sorrow will turn into Joy” (16:20c). By word and sacrament, we participate in the ongoing revelation of God. As the Father speaks to his listening Son; so from the Son we hear his word. Hearts are made new in the font of eternal life, living water of the Father’s love through his Son by the Spirit in the church (7:37-39).
Today we welcome Sophia Grace into heavenly conversation, enterprise, and communion in Christ. The Lord bless and keep her from this day forward. Amen.