Dear sisters and brothers in Christ Jesus,
The readings for today points in many directions. In the first reading Peter defends his being guest in a pagan household and baptizing gentiles. Being told by God to let aside prejudges and conceptions of other humans as being unclean or unfit for God’s kingdom, he goes to the house of Cornelius, and as Christ baptizes the assembly with the Holy Spirit in a way similar to the day of Pentecost, why shouldn’t they also be baptized in water and be recognized as full members of the Body of Christ? They were meant by God to be fellow pilgrims following the Way – or in Chinese following Tao; they too were friends of Tao – the living Word of God, who became one of us; he who is the way, the truth and the life.
The second reading takes us to the ends of time. Creation has been redeemed and restored to become a new heaven and a new earth, and the redeemed human race lives in the new Jerusalem coming down from heaven as the bride of Christ. In the restored creation God has God’s dwelling place with humans; there’ll be no separation, and all old wounds and pains will be healed. This is what awaits the disciples of Jesus. He makes everything new, and yet he who is the end was also the beginning; as the Omega, as the final goal (Telos) of evolution or creation, he was also the originator, the Alpha, the driving force or energy of creation towards its fulfilment.
The Gospel brings us back to Jesus’ final meal with his disciples before being taken prisoner and given over to the crucifixion. Jesus says that what is going to happen is his being glorified. He will be lifted up upon the cross, and he will be lifted up from the grave, and he will be lifted up to the Father and from God he will send the Holy Spirit. All of this reveals his glory, God’s presence in him – the light that can never be extinguished or overcome by darkness. His glory will be reflected into the world’s darkness when his disciples have the same attitude and serving love as their master. If they love one another, their love points towards the presence of Jesus among them, that the Kingdom of God is at hand. Their mutual love is a taste of the fulfilment to come – the life in the new Jerusalem. But Jesus also points to the fact that it is easier to speak about serving love and loving service that to really follow him. Therefor he in the verses following today’s Gospel reading predicts Peter’s denial of him, and we are reminded how easy it is to promise to live according of God’s will in serving love, and how easy it is to betray this love and deny our allegiance to Christ and the fellowship of his disciples.
But reading these disparate texts at the very same service nevertheless converges in the admonition not to lose hope – even though we find that our old person in us is very strong battling with our new person in Christ.
We should not despair, because Jesus har promised to baptize us with the Holy Spirit and to continually be filled, taught and led by the Spirit. Sending the Spirit to us, Jesus is still our Master and teacher. Through the Spirit we despite our short comings and despite our hopelessness when we fail still are Jesus’ disciples. Whatever we accuse ourselves of, and whatever other people raises of judgments towards us, it can never rob us of our dignity as disciples of Jesus. The Holy Spirit will continually remind us that with Christ we have found God as our Father, we are his beloved children and highly appreciated.
We will not despair, because our Master, friend, savior and brother Jesus Christ will make all things new – and bring everything to its fulfilment as he restores creation as a new heaven and a new earth, and we will be his bride in eternal union with him.
And as we see Jesus truly lifted up, he will renew a right Spirit within us – to love one another as he loves us.
Let us take a time in silent reflection in his presence and expecting the Holy Spirit to enlighten us and to bring us comfort, guidance and power.