26 May 2022 – Thursday of Week 6 of Easter
Thursday of Week 6 of Easter
Memorial: St Philip Neri, 1515-1595, founder of the Congregation of the Oratory.
1st Reading: Acts 18:1-8
The early days of Paul’s mission in Corinth, and the friends he found there
After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them, and they worked together – by trade they were tentmakers. Every sabbath he would argue in the synagogue and would try to convince Jews and Greeks.
When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with proclaiming the word, testifying to the Jews that the Messiah was Jesus. When they opposed and reviled him, in protest he shook the dust from his clothes and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” Then he left the synagogue and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshipper of God; his house was next door to the synagogue. Crispus, the officer of the synagogue, became a believer in the Lord, together with all his household; and many of the Corinthians who heard Paul became believers and were baptized.
Responsorial: Psalm 97: 1-4
R./: The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
Sing a new song to the Lord
for he had worked wonders.
His right hand and his holy arm
have brought salvation. (R./)
The Lord has made known his salvation;
has shown his justice to the nations.
He has remembered his truth and love
for the house of Israel. (R./)
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God.
Shout to the Lord all the earth,
ring out your joy. (R./)
Gospel: John 16:16-20
Jesus is going to the Father, and promises to come again
“A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me.”
Some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying to us, ‘A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” They said, “What does he mean by this ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Are you discussing among yourselves what I meant when I said, ‘A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’? Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy.”
Coping with Life’s Changes
After Paul left the cultured city of Athens, with its sophisticated audience, he proceeded to the seaport of Corinth, notorious for its riotous atmosphere. Here he ran into fierce opposition within the Jewish community, though Crispus the synagogue treasurer came to accept the gospel. As more and more pagans in Corinth accepted the message and turned to Jesus to their hearts, Paul gradually focused his ministry away from the Jews and toward gentile audience. Significant changes also appear in today’s gospel. Here it is expressed in terms of Jesus’ presence, absence and a new kind of presence. No stage of our existence is permanent. “The world as we know it is passing away” (1 Cor 7:31).
Change often takes us by surprise. No matter how adaptable we think ourselves to be, we find it hard to cope with all that happens. St Paul shows remarkable adaptability, in his travelling ministry. The work that needed to be done to spread the Gospel urged him to become “as a Greek with the Greeks, and as a Jew with the Jews.” The same openness to change was required when Jesus told his disciples he must go away. ‘A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me.’ Their grief at his absence is real, but he taught them to wait with patience for his return. “You will grieve — but your grief will be turned into joy.”
A kindly couple helped St Paul to adapt to his situation in tumultuous Corinth. He met with Priscilla and Aquila, who engaged in the same trade as himself; they were tent-makers. It seems they were also Jewish-Christians like himself. Not only did they help to keep Paul in contact with his roots, which could have been severed by his rejection in the synagogue, but they also kept him rooted and down to earth in the practical details of everyday life. With them he would earn his living by his own hands. Among the working class where everyone works for a living, Paul would broaden his ministry and to gather the foreigners into the community of Jesus’ disciples.
Preparing a place for us
On the night of the Last Supper, Jesus speaks about going away, going to the Father. His death will involve a real departure that will sadden his disciples. If they had their way they would have made him stay. But he insists that if they knew what lay ahead they would be glad, since he is returning to the Father. If they really loved him, they would not try to make him stay.
We too can rejoice at his departure, because by leaving this world Jesus can do so much more for us than if he had stayed in this world. In going to the Father he opens up a way to eternal life for all who believe in him. Going to the Father, he could send the Holy Spirit to his disciples. So his departure brought great advantage of all of us. Sometimes the best expression of our love for others is to let them go, not trying to hold onto them, to letting them go to whatever God wishes and desires for them.