SUNDAY’S READINGS | May 9, 2021
When the Word of God is truly preached, this happens. “While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word” (Acts 10:44). The Holy Spirit falls and causes a work of miraculous growth in the soil of human lives. “For as rain and snow fall from the heavens and return not again, but water the earth, bringing forth life and giving growth, seed for sowing and bread for eating, so is the word that comes forth from my mouth; it will not return to me empty; but it will accomplish that which I have purposed, and prosper in that for which I sent it” (Second Song of Isaiah, BCP p. 87).
The Word of God falls from heaven and gives life to a universal church. “Peter was astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles” (Acts 10:45). The inclusion of the Gentiles fulfilled an ancient prophecy. “I will pour out my spirit on all flesh” (Joel 2:28). No one stands outside the scope of this promise. “All flesh” means everyone reading these words, everyone in every congregation, every family, language, people, and nation. The Word has made a living and universal Church.
In a world divided and enslaved by sin, it is essential to recall the great joy of the Resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit upon all flesh. The Church, therefore, sings a new song, announces marvelous things, proclaims victory over death. The church gives voice to every creature under heaven. The church can hear that the land shouts, the seas make a noise, the rivers clap their hands, the hills ring out with joy (Ps. 98). The church is a resurrection ear and a resurrection voice.
The church listens and gives voice to every beautiful thing, as acknowledged in the Song of Creation (BCP p. 88): angels, powers, heavens, waters, sun, moon, stars of the sky, rain, wind, fire, heat, summer, drops of dew, flakes of snow, frost and cold, ice and sleet, nights and days, storm clouds and thunderbolts, mountains and hills, springs of water, seas and stream, whales and all that move in the waters, birds of the air, beasts of the wild, flocks and herds, men and women everywhere. Jesus Christ has come to save not only you but the whole creation.
“The Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word” (Acts 10:44). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of love. In this eternal love, the Father gives all things to the Son, and whatever the Son hears from the Father, the Son makes known to us (John 15:15). Listening, we hear of the union between love and commandment. The love of God poured into our hearts reveals the good works that love requires. These works are love in action. “This is my commandment,” Jesus says, “that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down his life for one’s friends” (John 15:12-13).
We will all lay down our lives. We are, in some measure, doing so in every moment. Why are we living and going to our death? Love is our meaning. We lay down our lives in acts of love, some small, some great, some easy, some crushing. All the while, we still hear the announcement of the Resurrection, we still open our mouths in praise, and we still bear our cross as a “yoke that is easy” because the Word is very near us.
The Christian life is one of great joy and deep love. It is also a life in which there are commandments and obligations, freely accepted because they are the embodiment of love.
Look It Up: John 5:2
Think About It: Obligations do not impede spiritual growth or spiritual joy.