Pondering the Word

Pentecost: Jn 20:19-23

05-31-2020Pondering the WordFr. Alcuin Hurl, FHS

This week Jesus breathes on the disciples. This is a sign or even sacramentalaction that signifies the impartation of the Holy Spirit. This is John’s version ofPentecost. The Gospel writers are often interested in displaying the mysteries of thelife of Jesus I.e. his birth, baptism, Epiphany etc.. Unlike the other Gospel writers Johnputs the mysteries of the Resurrection, the Ascension and Pentecost on the same day. Remember that in the morning Jesus told Mary Magdalen not to touch him because hehad not ascended to the Father yet but now Jesus invites the disciples to touch himlater that evening which implies he has ascended already. Why does John do this? John the theologian and the last Gospel traditionally symbolized by the far seeingEagle-like creature in Revelation wants to connect the gift of the Spirit to the Church onPentecost to the Resurrection. This means that our receiving the the Spirit is also areceiving the the resurrected life of Jesus. The mysteries are not separate and allreceived when we have a personal encounter with Jesus by faith.


Ascension of the Lord: Matthew 28:16-20

05-24-2020Pondering the WordFr. Alcuin Hurl, FHS

In this Sunday's Gospel we witness the Jesus going up to heaven forty days after his resurrection (when traditionally celebrated on Ascension Thursday). The opening prayer at Mass or "the collect" calls us to rejoice with thanksgiving and be glad with "holy joys" at the departure of Jesus. What are these mysterious holy joys? How can we rejoice and give thanks for the departure of someone we love and whose immediate presence we so dearly need? Rather, shouldn't we mourn the loss of someone we love? Here are four reasons to rejoice at the ascension of Jesus.

First, we rejoice because Jesus takes our poor human nature all the way up to the throne of God. God indeed exalts our lowly human nature by lifting it up beyond all the angelic powers to a place it has never gone before. Before the Word became flesh Christ indeed had a divine nature and authority but without the assumption of human nature. Now in his human nature Jesus is given all authority in heaven and earth. This mystery is good news for us because wherever the head goes the body follows which means we as the body of Christ follow him to the throne of God.


6th Sunday of Easter: John 14:15-21

05-17-2020Pondering the WordFr. Alcuin Hurl, FHS

In this Sunday's Gospel Jesus promises that the Father will send another advocate who will abide with us forever. Who is this other advocate?

This new advocate is the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. This is the first of seven times (the number of perfection and creation) that Jesus promises the gift of the Holy Spirit to the disciples when he leaves. Advocate is the Latin version of the Greek word Paraclete which literally means "to call to one's side." This is a word that comes from the Greek courtrooms where one would have a counselor or paraclete who would give counsel, plead a person's cause, or intercede with the judge in a court case. In a way this means that the Holy Spirit is our lawyer who has never lost a case because his Father is the judge. How could we lose a case with such a wonderful helper and mediator?


5th Sunday of Easter: John 14:1-12

05-10-2020Pondering the WordFr. Alcuin Hurl, FHS

In this Sunday's Gospel the disciples are huddled in the upper room in Jerusalem on the eve of the crucifixion gripped with terror. The Greek word for being "troubled" here means being terrified by the prospect of death. Yet, Jesus tells them to not let their hearts be troubled. Many of us have faced the fear of death especially in these days of the present pandemic for ourselves or our loved ones. Fear of death often feels like a wet blanket that we just cannot entangle ourselves from. Is it possible for us to actually free ourselves from the fear of death?


4th Sunday of Easter: John 10:1-10

05-03-2020Pondering the WordFr. Alcuin Hurl, FHS

The Good Shepherd Discourse that we hear this Sunday comes right after Jesus heals the man born blind who was betrayed by his parents and then kicked out of the synagogue by the Pharisees. Even though the man born blind experienced this hurtful rejection from the people he trusted he still musters the strength to trust in Jesus.

His trust is quite remarkable because often when we are betrayed by those we trust we make an inner vow to never trust anyone again—even God. The problem with this common reaction is that we simply cannot live a full joyful life without trust. How do we know we can trust Jesus or anyone else when our heart has been so wounded by betrayal? How can we learn to trust again? Jesus answers this question by calling us to trust him just like sheep trust their shepherd.